Kelly grew up 30 miles south of Boston in Easton, Mass., where he learned how to stop shots before he even could develop a decent stride on the soccer field.
"I started playing keeper when I was in the first grade," Kelly said. "I was just at a soccer camp for fun, and I thought I'd give it a shot. It worked out pretty well, I guess. I've always been a keeper. It's always been what I do."
Kelly's skills as a goalkeeper continued to develop in his soccer-crazed hometown as he matured. He was comfortable. Knew his teammates. Knew his surroundings. Until his parents shared the news about the move.
"It was sudden for sure," Kelly said. "My dad was already traveling to Salt Lake a lot because of work, so my family just decided to make a permanent move. It was definitely difficult."
And there was no time to ease into his new surroundings. But he clung to his passion, which proved to be his saving grace.
"I moved to Utah the day before my first day of eighth grade, so it was move to Utah and boom," he said. "I was there and I knew nothing about the culture or any of my classmates. It took me a while to adjust to how it is here. I just hung around for a while, but soccer was definitely what helped me to fit in eventually."
Playing club soccer and meeting some of the boys who eventually would become his teammates on the Juan Diego squad was what changed Kelly's perception of Utah. He quickly learned that his new friendships would erase the burden of an uprooted life.
"When you play soccer with all these guys so often, it's inevitable that you're going to make new friends quickly," Kelly said. "I love these guys. I've only known them for a few years, but I feel like I've known them my whole life. They're very welcoming. We all have one goal, and that's to win. You can't win if you don't have everyone on the team getting along. I praise them for building that brotherhood."
That brotherhood could explain how last year's Soaring Eagle boys' soccer team posted an 18-0 record, culminating in a Class 3A state championship, all with a sophomore goalkeeper in Kelly who led the state in shutouts.
"I had the best team any keeper could ever ask for in front of me," he said. "They made my job really easy. I just had to come up big when I had to, and I did the best I could. All the credit goes to the guys in front of me because they're usually the ones putting me in good positions."
Kelly enters this season season as a 5-foot-11, 170-pounder who is determined to repeat and exceed his 3A all-state first-team selection from last season.
"I was expecting [an all-state selection], but not necessarily because of how good I thought I was," Kelly said. "I led the state in shutouts, but I can barely even take credit for that because of how well the defense played in front of me. I'm always trying to be at the highest level. If you believe you're the best, then you're going to play like you're the best. I'm not trying to settle for less than anything but the best I can be, so I'm always going to try and play my hardest."
Kelly didn't bat an eye when asked about a realistic goal for 2017.
"We're definitely looking to repeat," Kelly said. "We did it last year, we can definitely do it again if we work as hard as last year's group did. Obviously, every game we're trying to come out and win. You can't go into a season thinking that you're going to lose some games just because we didn't lose last year.
"It's almost an entirely new squad this year. We've got a bunch of different guys because we lost a lot of good seniors last year. This year's group is looking to come out and win every game we play. Hopefully we can produce the same result."