Despite being a five-star prospect, Daniel Kelly spent his first two collegiate seasons coming off the bench, totaling just six goals over 18 games.

He then broke out and starred for the Terps’ offense last season as a full-time starter, more than doubling his career scoring total in that campaign alone.

But Eric Malever’s return from a torn right ACL and meniscus that kept him out for all of 2023 moved Kelly back into Maryland’s second line for the majority of this season. He only recently returned to the starting lineup due to a Daniel Maltz injury.

Kelly’s role has fluctuated over the past two seasons. He’s remained steady this year despite the uncertainty.

“It’s been a little bit different this year bouncing back from attack to midfield,” Kelly said. “It’s a team sport, you do anything the team needs.”

Kelly led Maryland’s offense last season with 30 goals on a team-high 96 shots. He scored a goal in all but one game and his 1.88 goals per game ranked 10th among all Big Ten players.

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Kelly excelled at finding openings in opposing defenses.

His first score in his first four-goal outing of the 2023 season against Loyola — which gave Maryland its first score more than 13 minutes in — came as he slowly shuffled over to an opening to the side of the cage, freeing himself for an easy look. Kelly, with the entire Greyhounds’ defense focused on one side of the field, crept open for an uncontested goal in the third quarter.

In Kelly’s second straight four-goal game, he waited in front of the goal-crease before scoring with a one-on-one look against the Syracuse goalkeeper for his third goal. He ran behind the side of the cage to the front for a close-range score a couple minutes later.

All but two of Kelly’s 30 goals were off of an assist, as his strength for last year’s team was making himself open for his teammates. Kelly did more damage in individual matchups when he transitioned back to the second line this season — less than half of his bench goals were assisted.

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Kelly’s return to the starting lineup has resulted in similar production on a per game basis from last season, though. He’s scored five goals in his three starts, with only one coming unassisted.

Maryland’s offense this season is similar to last’s. The Terps average about two less goals per game with a near identical shooting percentage. The unit’s structure, just like in 2023, let Kelly transition between a bench and starting position.

“It’s an offense that we all flow together,” Kelly said. “It makes it easy to jump into any spot and play.”

Kelly remained in Maryland’s starting lineup in its regular season finale against Johns Hopkins last weekend despite Maltz’s return. He’s accounted for a team-high 20.8 percent of the Terps’ goals since becoming a starter. They’ll need production from him in the postseason regardless of his role.