Who says you cannot go home again?

Certainly not Kristina Kelly, who recently made the decision to transfer her academic and athletic smarts a bit closer to home.

The 20-year-old Kelly, who has played three years of women’s soccer at Division I Central Connecticut State University, has officially transferred to the University of Maine at Orono, where she will continue to play soccer for the Black Bears.

The 5-foot 4-inch forward started 17 games in the fall for the Blue Devils and was second on the team in scoring with six goals and two assists (14 points), along with being named first-team all-Northeast Conference (NEC)

In three seasons, Kelly started 39 games for CCSU and compiled nine goals and four assists, with four of those nine being game-winning scores.

She has two years of National Collegiate Athletic Association of eligibility remaining because she officially lost her college freshman athletic year to the pandemic.

Kelly, a 2020 Camden Hills Regional High School graduate, helped lead the Windjammers to four straight state Class A girls soccer championships and won a myriad of awards for her pitch prowess along the way, none more impressive than the 2019 Gatorade High School Girls National Player of the Year.

She finished her Windjammer soccer career with 159 goals and 65 assists, including 49 goals and 21 assists as a senior.

“I loved it at Central, but academically it wasn’t the best fit for me,” she said. “I loved that I was able to really open up around the teammates and develop as a person and as a player, but I feel like I outgrew it a little bit. That’s when I decided I wanted to leave and go somewhere else.”

After the Blue Devils (9-6-2) lost to Fairleigh Dickinson University 2-1 in the NEC semifinals on Nov. 3, Kelly let administration know of her plans to leave and entered the transfer portal, where 15 to 20 schools — including the University of Albany, Seattle University, Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Utah, among others — were interested in obtaining the talented forward’s services.

Ultimately, as proximity to home was paramount, Kelly waffled between UMaine and the University of New Hampshire before she, ultimately, decided to stay in state with the Black Bears.

UMaine also gave Kelly a full scholarship, including an extra year for graduate school.

Kelly, known for her incredible speed, ball skills and now strength, played three years at CCSU, but “I was one of the COVID kids my freshman year, so even though I played three years at Central, only two of them took eligibility.”

Thus, Kelly has two more years of eligibility to play soccer with the Black Bears.

“I’ll finish my junior year [academically] this spring then do my senior year, a fifth year and then depending on the program that I choose to do and what research I’m getting into, I can do a sixth year as well.”

She added that the academic opportunities were more streamlined at UMaine, which also played a part in her decision. Kelly is pre-med and has ambitions to become a doctor.

“At UMaine they have actual pre-med advisors,” she said. “I’ve already met mine and each professor has their own lab and you can sign-up and do research with them. At Connecticut, it’s not very well-organized.”

School also was a problem socially at times for Kelly as many players on the team lived nearby and “would be going home every weekend, and I didn’t have that option.”

She certainly now will be able to do that with Orono only an hour-and-15 minutes from her parents home in Lincolnville, as opposed to five hours away.

Kelly, who was a standout in soccer, wrestling, basketball and track and field in high school, also has had the opportunity to meet her Black Bear teammates and will move into an off-campus apartment with teammates prior to the start of the spring semester on Jan. 17.

“It’s a good fit,” she said. “I love the coach, I love the players and everyone is super nice there. It was kind of a no-brainer.”

This past season, the Black Bears finished 9-3-5 and fell 2-1 in the America East semifinals to UNH.