It's Myers' show, home and away

Girls soccer: When she's not showing her slick footwork for a U.S. junior team, she's being a thorn in the side to John Carroll's opponents.

High Schools

October 12, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Will Ashley Myers pivot left or is she going right?

Is she heading to goal or just looking to set up a John Carroll teammate?

What is her primary foot, anyway?

"This lady [the mother of an opposing player] told me that they knew exactly what to do against Ashley because she always goes to her left foot," recalled Patriots teammate Rachel Layer. "But actually, she's righty. That's what makes her dangerous. You have no idea what she's going to do."

Myers is predictable in one way: Given the smallest space - or sometimes no room whatsoever - she usually gives defenses fits.

An All-Metro selection last year after scoring 12 goals and two assists, the Patriots' junior forward is having another stellar season with 10 goals and two assists for John Carroll (9-2-1) despite nagging injuries and illness.

Myers has battled bronchitis and a sinus infection since returning to the United States in May after playing for the U.S. under-16 national team in the Ballymena international tournament in Northern Ireland.

A concussion held her out of two games earlier this season and pain in her feet kept her from playing in the third-ranked Patriots' 1-0 victory over Institute of Notre Dame on Monday.

But the Patriots, who fell to top-ranked Notre Dame Prep, 2-0, on Friday, have come to expect that, in big games and at big moments, Myers will be just fine.

With the Patriots in the midst of a two-game winless stretch earlier this season, it was Myers who got them back on track, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over then-No. 4 St. Mary's.

Two days after she scored both of the Patriots' goals in a 2-0 victory over No. 7 McDonogh, she found the net in overtime to lift John Carroll to a 1-0 win over Mercy.

"I'll always remember what my club coach, Dave Nolan, said, that big-time players play well in big-time games," said Myers, 16, who plays club ball for the Bethesda Excel, which lost in a shootout this past summer in the final of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.

The experience of playing on the big stage doesn't hurt, either, and Myers has plenty of it, starting with weekly showdowns in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

Playing international competition, however, is a different ballgame, though as a member of the under-16 national team, she has already made a name for herself.

In two exhibitions this summer with the national team against Germany and Canada - a 1-0 win and a 1-1 tie - Myers scored the Americans' only goals.

She also scored on a header as the U.S. beat Northern Ireland, 2-0, on its way to winning the Ballymena tournament.

Upon her return from Ireland, Myers found herself with near-celebrity status at school, even attracting some autograph requests. But that attention didn't sit well with a player whom Lynch called a "bashful scorer."

"You're always going to hear things people have to say, whether negative or positive," said Myers, a Bel Air resident. "Some things people say, I use them to motivate me and others, I don't pay attention to it at all. I worry only what I'm doing and how my team is doing."

None of Myers' exploits surprise John Carroll coach Gary Lynch, who said he never had a player come into high school with the reputation Myers had.

"You don't see many forwards who play like men, and that's a compliment," said Lynch, adding that Myers and former Catholic High School and UMBC standout Christa Gredlein are the two best forwards he has ever coached.

"Ashley can play with her back to the goal, one of the most difficult things to do. She can receive and hold the ball because she's so strong and quick. She's fast, she's dangerous without the ball and she has a great shot. You're talking about the best of almost any world there is."

And she works hard, too.

"She's obsessed with soccer," Layer said. "When she was not playing [because of the concussion], she was going to the Bel Air Athletic Club and training."

To hear Myers talk, her game, influenced by a handful of people since she started playing at age 4, is still a work in progress.

She credited her father, a former player for the New York Cosmos of the defunct North American Soccer League, for her shooting precision, and her mother for helping her cope with the mental side of soccer.

Myers said Cindy Wolf, who played at Fallston and Syracuse University and helped coach her Olympic Development Program team, has taught her a lot, as has watching U.S. national team players Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach.

"I work really hard, but during games, it's not like it's one-on-one," said Myers, who, as a junior, has already gotten letters from nearly 60 colleges since Sept. 1.

"I have a lot of people behind me. [Patriots midfielder] Jamie Zimmerman has helped us so much. Rachel Layer has stepped up and, without teammates and coaches, I couldn't accomplish what I've accomplished. But still, you have to look at the big picture."

For Myers, that includes going to a training camp in Boca Raton, Fla., in November with her regional team. The camp, which will be attended by U.S. women's national team coach April Heinrichs, will serve as a tryout of sorts for next summer's under-19 World Cup team.

"Since the time I can remember, [playing on the national team] has been a goal of mine," said Myers. "I feel a step closer, but there are a lot of things that still need to be done. I have to do extra, and give more."

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