Khiry Shelton just wanted the chance to practice, and perhaps play, a little bit for the Austin Aztex when his summer quarter ended at Oregon State and he came back home to Leander for a short break.
After all, the men’s college season begins in less than three weeks, and even players with Shelton’s talent level need a little time off.
Instead, Shelton finds himself in the middle of the Aztex’s run to a possible Premier Development League national title, whose final four will play it out this weekend at House Park.
Shelton, a former Vista Ridge standout, is a 6-2 forward who brings speed, finishing ability and panache to an Aztex team that, frankly, was pretty good without him. He joined the team last month and has become a force in the offensive zone during his truncated stint.
He has scored four goals in four games and has become a potent offensive weapon, working on the left side opposite Kris Tyrpak, the team’s leading scorer.
“I didn’t know what to expect, or if I was going to play, because the team was doing so well,” Shelton said. “The guys accepted me, and (Austin coach) Paul (Dalglish) found a way to get me in the lineup. This team has been successful because of its depth and the way we work together, but I wanted to make sure I fit it.”
If Shelton’s late arrival feels familiar to Aztex fans, it’s because he also joined the team during its final push last season, when he played in Austin’s final five regular-season games, scoring two goals and adding an assist to help the Aztex reach the Southern Conference championship game.
Last season’s stint helped Shelton quickly make an impact this year.
“Khiry already knew some of our plays, and it was just a case of him picking up where he left off after last season,” Dalglish said. “He obviously has some incredible pace and power, but he has been much more of a goal threat this year that last.
“That came from his work in the time he was away from us — from working out on his own and for his college team. His finishing has improved, and the move to the left side obviously fits him better.”
Three injuries over his past two college seasons have cost him playing time at Oregon State; he made the All-Pac 12’s honorable mention squad after starting 11 games and playing in four more.
He scored a goal in each of the Beavers’ first three matches and had the game-winning goal and an assist against Manhattan, but then missed time with a high ankle sprain. Shelton, who’ll be a junior this fall, tied for second on the team in goals, third in points and second in shots.
“Shelton is able to use his speed and physical presence and that gives me more opportunities to run off him,” Tyrpak said. “He’s a long-ball threat; you just chip the ball over the top to him and he can run it down and make the defense pay.”
Friday/Sunday, House Park. Friday’s semifinals: Thunder Bay Chill-Victoria Highlanders, 5; Austin Aztex-Ocean City Nor’easters, 7:30; Sunday’s championship, 7:30