Walk on any soccer field where 14-year-old Kelly Jordan is playing and it will take about five minutes to realize that a special talent is on display.
Arundel High's sophomore striker blows by defenders with speed, shouts instructions to her teammates, goes straight to the goal and passes off to a teammate, or scores with the grace and style of a seasoned veteran.
Jordan has zoomed onto the Anne Arundel County girls soccer scene in just five games for the unbeaten Arundel Wildcats (5-0).
The slender 5-foot-6 sprinter has seven goals and five assists for a ninth-ranked team that has outscored the opposition 26-4 and is now setting its sights on top-ranked Severna Park Oct. 11.
Two teams that Jordan and her mates have burned in this early-season run are defending county-champion Old Mill by a 5-1 score and defending Class 1A-2A state champion Oakland Mills, 2-0.
So many good things have happened so fast for Jordan that coach Tom Degner is trying hard to keep everything in perspective.
He has been giving her long rests in games, such as a 6-0 victory over North County. He has experimented with Jordan at midfield, asking her to put the ball at the feet of her teammates more often in scoring situations. And he has tried to rein in Jordan's fiery leadership style.
"He likes me being a leader and talking to the other players, but he told me not to be too negative," said Jordan. "In the heat of the game, I get frustrated sometimes and say things. But my philosophy in soccer is what is said on the field stays on the field and should never be taken personally."
Jordan is trying her best to follow Degner's instructions, but it's not easy for a girl who spends weekends playing for the Free State Fury in the competitiveWashington Area Girls Soccer League, where developing individual skills for the next level is emphasized.
"On my WAGS team, I'm the only striker out there, and I have to tell the halfbacks when to come up," said Jordan. "In high school, there are always two strikers, which takes away a lot of my responsibility."
Degner knows there may come a time this season when he has to turn Jordan loose to win a big game. No one would love that more than Jordan, who dares to take chances on the field and to dream off the field.
"I'd love to go to the U.S. national team some day and play in the Olympics," she said. "But that's a long ways off. First, I have to work hard to get a scholarship to a good Division I college team."
Degner and Jordan both agree there is one possible drawback to Jordan's making it at the major Division I level.
"Kelly is not a very big girl [120 pounds]. People are going to hit her hard, and she's going to have to get stronger to take that beating," said Degner. "But she has time to grow."
In the Meantime, Jordan wants to keep improving her ball skills and be part of a big victory over Severna Park.
"I haven't had a chance to see Severna Park play, but I understand they have a really fast team and know what to do with the ball when they get it," said Jordan.
There's also another little item of business which perplexes the sophomore, who will turn 15 in November: "I know the polls aren't everything, but I don't understand why we aren't ranked higher. We'll just keep using our low ranking to fire us up for games."
Jordan and junior teammate Polly Williams have been working well together as Arundel's two strikers, with Williams having a knack for leading Jordan just right on breakaway passes.
"I love working at the top with Polly," said Jordan. "We have the same style of play, which is basically going to goal and looking to cross instead of using long balls. We both penetrate a lot."
Jordan's most spectacular goal this season came in a 4-2 win over Northeast. She took a pass from Williams on a breakaway, drew a sliding Lisa Gordon out of the net and then tapped the ball in the goal from 12 yards.
"That was pretty sweet," said Jordan.
Pub Date: 10/01/96