When Adrian Glover took over the women's soccer program at George Washington University last year, he had plenty of work to do. The Colonials had won only 21 games the previous six years and had showed few signs of improvement.
But thanks largely to senior striker Diane Kelly, the Colonials returned to respectability last year. This season they are 7-3 and on the brink of cracking the national poll.
"Diane has transformed this program from no hope to top 30, and hopefully, top 20 in the country," said Glover, who guided GW to a 12-10 record last year.
After scoring 85 goals in two years at Mercer (N.J.) Community College, Kelly transferred to GW last year and led the nation in scoring with 29 goals. Despite added attention from opposing defenses, Kelly has 12 goals and four assists this season, placing her in the top five in scoring nationally.
"It's just phenomenal what she's done for us," said Glover, who came to George Washington from Maryland. "She has gotten the program respectability and that's important because we're now in a position where high school kids will take a serious look at GW."
Glover discovered Kelly, who is 5 feet 3, when Maryland played at Mercer two years ago. Mercer Coach Bill Drake told Glover about his high-scoring striker who was interested in transferring to a four-year school.
"I wanted to come in and help a building program," said Kelly, who chose George Washington over Florida International, Rutgers and last year's NCAA runner-up, Colorado College. "I really didn't expect to score as much as I did last year, but I played as hard as I could and the goals came."
Kelly, from Lawrenceville, N.J., had three three-goal games in 1986, including one against her former Mercer teammates. This year she had three goals and an assist in George Washington's season-opening, 13-1 win over La Salle.
"We needed a goal scorer," Glover said. "We gave her a target of 20 goals because she had 40 in junior college. But we never expected her to score 29 on the Division I level."
After her scoring output last year, Kelly has received considerable defensive attention this season. She is sometimes triple-teamed and has scored in only five George Washington games.
"They put more pressure on me, but that's been good," Kelly said. "It has made me work harder and it gives my teammates more chances to score."
Kelly's support has come from Sandy Helverson (six goals, two assists), Teresa Miguel (three goals), Maureen Schaffer (four goals, two assists) and Tracy Dalberth (two goals, three assists), the junior college player of the year in 1986.
"Everyone knows about Diane, but we have two or three other good players who can score goals," Glover said. "If a team is going to mark Diane tightly, that opens up the offense for the other players."
For instance, Radford had a 7-2-1 record coming into its important regional game against the Colonials last weekend. Kelly drew heavy coverage, allowing Dalberth and sophomore Lisa Cellura to score in George Washington's 2-0 win.
In addition to her soccer feats, which may gain her all-America honors this year, Kelly is also a superb softball player. She was an all-America while at Mercer and played second base for Pennsylvania's entry in a national tournament this summer.
The Colonials' losses have been to No. 2 Massachusetts, No. 7 North Carolina State, and a double-overtime defeat to Berry College, the NAIA's top team. George Washington could move into the top 20 with a good showing at the Washington Area Girls Soccer Tournament this weekend at Fort Belvoir. George Washington plays fourth-ranked William and Mary in the first round.
"It's going to be tough to make the NCAA Tournament," said Kelly, who scored 47 goals for Mercer in 1984 and 38 in 1985. "But to break the top 20 would be a realistic goal for us."