Speakman lets on-field play do the talking
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
PARACHUTE — One of the last things Ashlynn Speakman wants to do is talk about herself. Her teammates are more than happy to do it for her, though.
“She is such a huge part of our team,” said Grand Valley senior defender Tarianna Lawrence of her teammate on the girls soccer team. “She’s our top scorer, she creates space to help other people score goals, and she’s a great asset to our team. I honestly don’t know who we could put in for her to replace her.”
The scoring Speakman has produced this year would be tough to replace. The 25 goals she’s scored this season are second in Colorado’s 3A classification to Lutheran senior Shelby Raper, and the seven assists she’s tallied lead the team. And those 25 goals are nearly one-third of the 73 scored by the Cardinals this season, which ranks tops in 3A.
“She’s just flourished,” Grand Valley coach Eric Sarno said. “She sees the field so well, and she has such a great knowledge of the game.”
Speakman is one of the fastest players on Grand Valley’s roster, and she benefited big time from the Cardinals’ change in formation this season.
During Grand Valley’s 9-6-0 campaign in 2012, the Cardinals used a 4-4-2 formation (four defenders, four midfielders, two forwards) with great success. That came even though Speakman, who played in every game, was slowed while recovering from a broken leg.
She still produced eight goals and two assists, however. It was good for second on the team, behind the nine goals scored by teammate Lauren Paskett, as Grand Valley scored 32 goals during its 14-match season.
This year, obviously, has been much different. Grand Valley moved to a 4-3-3 formation to produce more offense. And by moving Speakman into that middle spot on the front line as a center/forward, she’s gotten more scoring opportunities in front of the net.
She wants to take advantage of them as much as possible — with a little added motivation, of course.
“Last year, I know I could have done better,” Speakman said. “My hopes now are to go play college soccer somewhere, and I was told that my junior year is the most important year to help with that.
“And from the team aspect,” she continued, “this is that last season with the seniors that I have. I’ll never get to play with them again. So I might as well go out and go hard so we can make playoffs for the first time.”
Grand Valley, actually, has already clinched a spot in the Class 3A state playoffs with its 11-2-0 overall record, which eclipsed the record win total the program set last year.
And with Speakman setting the pace offensively, the Cardinals’ chances in the next few weeks don’t look too bad.
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