author: konstantin kharitonov | contributor
Soccer team’s Ashton Lowry on the rise
A sponge. Usually people don’t get called that. While not particularly an insult, it still can throw someone off, for sure. However, that is exactly what Canada West’s First Star of the Week and CIS Female Athlete of the Week Ashton Lowry, who is the goalkeeper for the University of Regina Cougar’s women’s soccer team, was described as by her head coach Robert Maltman, and goaltending/assistant coach Rob McCaffrey.
“She mentioned in our meetings that she made a mental decision that she wanted to prove to herself that this is the type of player she can be,” said Maltman when discussing Lowry and her play. And boy, she did just that, not only to herself, but in the eyes of those who pegged her with the weekly honours. Coming off of a week where the Cougars secured four points out of a possible six with two shutouts, the current third-year nursing student made five saves against both the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (yes, that’s actually what they are called) and the University of Manitoba Bisons who the Cougars won against and tied against, respectfully. While the accolades are definitely worth gloating about, the Cougar goalkeeper still stays as humble as the day she started playing for the team.
“I was actually really overwhelmed and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was just playing my game and just thought I had a good weekend,” Lowry said about finding about the First Star and Female Athlete recognition, “It’s a whole team effort when we are taking it to the pitch. I feel like there is a strong sense of trust between everyone on the team.”
Team-first is Ashton’s mentality, and it shows in her and the team’s effort. When the team is putting more trust in their goalie, the players themselves feel more comfortable to push the play up the field, which the girls were able to do in their 1-0 win of the Wesmen. Though the trust runs deeper than just on the field. These ladies are a tight-knit group, each of them having a sense of belonging and when there is this chemistry, well anything is possible.
“Even when I was a younger player we [the team] had a strong bond and girls were ‘Hey if you ever need something, come talk to me,’” Ashton says about her experience with the team in her first two years.
The development process is key for any position, but it can be argued that having the right process is doubly important. Playing a position where the individual is the last line of defense, every minuscule detail is vital, thus, coaching such a position can be nerve-racking. Although, with the Ashton and the all of the girls playing goalkeeper for the team right now, it’s a strong group, with each of them wanting to bring the best they can for the team, and it is putting a smile on goalie coach Rob McCaffrey’s face.
“Knowing Ashton, Kacey McFee (fifth-year Engineering student), and Savannah Williams (second-year enrolled in the Faculty of Arts,), their aim is not so much from the individual accolades [sic],” said McCaffrey about what drives the goalkeepers to play at to the best of their abilities. “It’s to get our team to where we want to go from a group situation. That makes me excited.”
It’s a feeling that every player on the team is noticing and reacting well to. As a team, seeing success drives the hunger to achieve more, to become the most successful that this team can possibly be.
“Its nice for us to finally be able to get the record on the scoreboard we’ve been working for the past two years, since before we haven’t got the results we were hoping for. We got a lot of 1-0 losses, close games and ties,” said team captain Kayla McDonald when asked about the start of the season. “It was really nice to finally get a win.”
It’s a nice for Ashton and the rest of the team to get recognized for their accomplishments. However, with this come expectations to continue their good play for the season. When first coming to the U of R from Calgary, the welcome was warm, even if Ashton herself was nervous, though never timid as she had the confidence. With those two years, playing time might have been hard to find, as it is for any player being eased into any program. During her years with the program, Lowry herself has matured, becoming an individual who gives her fellow teammates support, the same support she had received when joining the team. Riding a new wave of even more confidence and determination, with the added benefit of training in Regina all summer, Lowry came into this year with an assurance that she could earn the playing time and be the best player she is capable of for the team. It’s just what the team needed. As put by the players and the coaches, the season is not a sprint but a marathon, and this is still only the first couple of miles.
“When I’m going to be playing, there are going to be a lot more eyes on me now and that’s okay with me,” Lowry said when asked about having added expectations because of the weekly honours. “Now, I’m trying to really focus on the games coming up. I know that they are really important, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The accolades that Lowry had received have had an extremely positive influence on the cougar netminder and the whole team, giving them recognition that they have rightfully earned. With the high praise come high expectations to not only continue their success, but to elevate their game. It’s quite a demanding challenge, but it is one that the Cougars are ready for, particularly one former Calgary native, Ashton Lowry, who is your Canada West First Star of the week and CIS Female Athlete of the Week.