By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County girls soccer coach Mike Carpenter wasn't surprised to see senior forward Kelsea Potts sending shots into the net on a regular basis this past season. After all, Potts entered this spring as the school's all-time leading scorer and had set a Wildcats single-season scoring record with 18 goals during her sophomore season in 2012.
Potts has always been a scorer for the Wildcats, but there likely wasn't a single person in Warren County's girls soccer program -- Potts included -- that could've predicted that she would do what she did in 2014.
Potts, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2014 Girls Soccer Player of the Year, scored a whopping 39 goals for the Wildcats this season, more than doubling her record-setting performance two seasons ago and putting a brilliant capstone on a stellar high school soccer career.
"I knew she was going to score, but I don't think anyone could have guessed that she would score that many," Carpenter said in a phone interview recently. "She's always been a goal scorer. Everything just kind of came together for her.
"She really put the team on her shoulders this season," he added.
A four-year starter, Potts entered this spring with 35 career goals after breaking the previous school record of 29 set by Hannah Oakes -- a 2009 graduate -- last season, and Potts started early this year with her sights set on breaking her single-season record of 18 goals. She eclipsed that mark just eight games into the season, thanks in large part to a five-goal performance in a 6-3 Wildcats win over Madison County on April 1, which she followed with a hat trick against Strasburg in an overtime victory the following night.
Potts also scored four goals in five attempts in a 5-2 win over William Monroe on May 9 and scored multiple goals in a match numerous times this season.
"I actually wanted to re-break the single season scoring record first, and then it came pretty early in the season," said Potts, who averaged 2.3 goals per match this season. "So then, you know, I wanted to double what I had. I just had to keep hitting more goals. I really wanted 40."
Warren County's offense clearly revolved around Potts -- she accounted for nearly 75 percent of the Wildcats' goals this season. But Potts said she never allowed her individual accomplishments to get in the way of Warren County's ultimate goals.
"I didn't really brag about it to anybody on the team. It was just something that I kept to myself, but it was always in the back of my head and I knew that I still wouldn't hog the ball," Potts said. "I was still passing it to my teammates and stuff because we still needed to win. It wasn't all about me. It was about winning for us."
Potts, who also leaves Warren County as the co-leader in career assists (19), said at the beginning of the season she was unsure about how well the Wildcats would jell together with such a young squad this season, but she eagerly assumed a larger leadership role this season and tried to serve as a positive role model for her teammates.
Potts said she and sophomore center-midfielder Courtney L'Amoreaux began developing a strong chemistry on the pitch, and it became a common sight to see L'Amoreaux finding Potts with a through ball as she streaked down the field.
"It started to shine this season. I didn't really play with her until last year when she was on varsity. She was tiny and quiet and she didn't know anybody, and I kind of took her under my wing I guess," Potts said of L'Amoreaux, who led the Wildcats with 13 assists. "We got to know each other a little more. We had better chemistry at the end of this season."
"The timing was just on," Carpenter said of the L'Amoreaux-to-Potts connection. "The timing of [Potts'] runs and the timing of Courtney's passes ... as a coach on the sideline you could just see it developing. You could anticipate it coming."
Carpenter said that Potts -- a first team all-Bull Run District, all-Conference 28 and all-Region 3A East pick this season -- has a tremendous ability to correctly time a through ball, which allowed her to put herself into so many favorable scoring situations.
"I think a lot of it is timing. She timed her runs for through balls and she's always had the ability with a strong right foot to put the ball into the corner of the net," said Carpenter, who added that Potts strengthened her ability to use her left foot, something that had been a weakness for Potts in years past.
Opposing teams began to grow more and more aware of Potts' dangerous goal-scoring abilities, as well, and Potts sometimes found herself being double-teamed as defenses tried to limit her touches.
Warren County (10-6-1) likely benefited from being in the Bull Run District for the first time this season, as teams entered the season largely unaware of Potts' scoring prowess, but Carpenter said he noticed more and more teams focusing on Potts as the season progressed.
Loudoun Valley displayed the "most extreme" case of a team trying to eliminate her touches, Potts said, as the Vikings aggressively double- and triple-teamed her in the Conference 28 tournament semifinals en route to an eventual 6-2 win. Potts failed to score in the Wildcats' season-ending loss, but she did assist on both of Warren County's goals.
Potts, who plays soccer in the offseason for the Washington Area Girls Soccer (WAGS) Winchester United squad, will attend James Madison University this fall and hopes to join a club soccer team at the school before perhaps attempting to join the Dukes' varsity squad in the coming years.
She leaves Warren County with 74 career goals, a mark that will be tough for future Wildcats to beat.
"It means a whole lot. People are going to try to beat that until they do, which hopefully won't be for a while," Potts said with a laugh. "I never thought that I would get 29. It's just a number that you look for as an incoming freshman. It's your goal, and thankfully I actually got to it and passed it. It means a lot. Hopefully people will remember my name for a while."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD