By Brad Fauber
Warren County senior Kelsea Potts set a school single-season girls soccer record two years ago when she tallied 18 goals for the Wildcats as a sophomore in the 2012 spring season.
Potts -- the school's all-time leading goal scorer -- is on pace to shatter that single-season mark this year, as she tallied nearly half of that total in a two-day span last week.
The senior erupted for five goals in a win over Bull Run District foe Madison County on April 1, and turned right around the next day to put up three more goals in an overtime district win against Strasburg.
Potts' accomplishments earned her The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week honor for the week of March 30-April 5.
"It was pretty much like my whole season last year in a few days," Potts said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"I was not expecting to get all of those goals, especially the five in one night."
Potts, who has scored 14 of Warren County's 19 goals in the Wildcats' first six matches this season, has been nearly unstoppable on the pitch so far this season. But none of her performances were as impressive as the one she put on against Madison County.
The senior set the tone for the match quickly, as Potts scored the game's first goal in the opening minute and added another score in the ninth minute. She added three more goals in the second half to help the Wildcats roll to a 6-1 victory.
The next night against Strasburg, Potts again got Warren County rolling early. She struck for her first goal of the match in the ninth minute on a breakaway goal, and she got loose behind Strasburg's defense again in the 26th minute before planting the ball into the back of the net to give Warren County a 2-0 lead.
The Rams answered with two goals of their own to tie the match late in the second half, and Potts was forced to leave the game after being on the receiving end of a slide tackle, an impact that ended with her limping to the sideline with about 12 minutes to play in regulation.
"I didn't think she was going to go back out there, but she was determined to," Wildcats coach Mike Carpenter said following the match.
Potts returned about five minutes later, and she delivered the decisive blow in the first overtime period as she scored her third goal of the match following a Warren County corner kick. The Wildcats won the match 3-2.
Potts' combination of speed, ball control and fearlessness is what makes her such a dangerous goal scorer for the Wildcats, but she attributed a lot of her success last week to the execution of her teammates around her.
"I think mainly [it was] the defense just keeping the ball on our side of the field and the center-mid's finding holes in the defense and sending it," Potts said.
She has also embraced the role as Warren County's leader this season, which is further powering her performance. Potts has spent several seasons leading the Wildcats' offensive charge on the pitch, but she said the true leadership roles in the past were held by the team captains, including her good friend, Tori Graham, last season.
But Graham's graduation last spring opened a spot that Potts gladly filled this season.
"Last year my best friend was the captain, so I was kind of in her shadow," Potts said. "This year it was my time ... and we have a young team, so I felt like I needed to help push them to get better."
Carpenter said there has been a noticeable difference in the way Potts has approached her leadership role this season.
"This season something switched and she's just taking over leadership and everything," Carpenter said. "She's the first person to get the team going in practice. ... I think that's the most impressive thing.
"And on the field she's becoming a team player. She's calming for us, [she's] directing traffic, and people feed off that."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD