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As her soccer career has developed, Ashley Aberton has found double- and triple-teams more and more common.
Most of the opponents she's faced have learned it's not wise to leave only one defender on the Skyline forward. She will find a way to get by.
"I was told by my assistant coach when I first got to Skyline that she was a good player she's gonna be the one who scores the goals for us," says coach Yamil Castillo, who joined the program two years ago. "I noticed how fast she was, and the skill."
It takes a while for others to notice Aberton's skill the first thing everyone sees is a wispy-framed teenager who is, by her own words, "5-foot-4 on a good day."
But those who believe they can push her around have made a critical miscalculation. Aberton not only is faster than most of the people who mark her up, she also takes pride in giving as good as she gets.
"I feel like I'm always trying to be one of the most physical players out there," she says. "I don't back down, and I try to match the intensity. That comes from having an older brother who plays football."
After spending a good chunk of her high-school career going up against bigger players, Aberton has established herself as one of the best scorers in the state. As a sophomore, she led the team with 12 goals. As a junior, she scored 19 almost half of the team's total scores that season as the Eagles reached the Class 4A finals.
Even on her Sparta United club team, going against better competition, Aberton leads the team in goals and assists. She always seems primed to make a run at the net.
"Ashley is always open," teammate Kaitlin Parkin says. "I think some girls do underestimate her because of her size. But she really is a hard worker. Some people don't realize how much she can threaten them."
Aberton has long taken a serious approach to training. Her father, Mark Aberton, is a physical therapist and runs an athletic performance lab. The family was profiled in ESPN The Magazine two years ago for the extreme lengths they went to for Ashley's athletic training, including flying to South Carolina to work a private session with a noted basketball trainer.
The effort and resources poured into Ashley Aberton's sports career have paid off: She'll head to Gonzaga next year to play soccer, picking the Bulldogs over offers from USC, Loyola Marymount, Yale and Dartmouth. "When I visited there, I felt like I belonged," she says. "In Spokane, the sports just seem like the heart of that town. I liked that it's a family-oriented kind of team, and the environment was a good one for me."
Before Aberton can turn her mind to thoughts of college, Skyline has unfinished business.
A 1-0 loss to Timpanogos in last year's final still haunts the Eagles, who fell short of the program's first title since 2001. Aberton will be expected to help lead the team back to Rio Tinto Stadium this fall.
"She always takes everything personal, and she always pushes herself she's self-motivated," Castillo says. "Originally I was concerned to see if she could be a team captain and a leader. She's developing into one of the best."
As always, Aberton has her eyes firmly set on her goals the ones she'll score, of course, but also winning a championship.
"I think about [last year's final] every single day," she says. "Now we know how to get there. We know what it takes. We know how hard we have to push."
Ashley Aberton at a glance
Has led Skyline in scoring each of the past two seasons.
A two-time All State first-team player.
Leads her Sparta United club team in goals and assists.
Will play soccer at Gonzaga.
Also competes in basketball and track for the Eagles.