With a stealth-like movement, Cape Henlopen’s Jack Ashby slips around the field.
The captain is always looking for small pockets of open space on the field.
He may be a center attacking midfielder, but the senior certainly doesn’t stay central.
That’s what makes Ashby so dynamic for the 14-1, Henlopen North division champion Vikings: he can float all over the field and make an impact.
Whether it’s receiving the ball from the defense and transitioning play toward the opponent’s net, receiving the ball from the high striker and plowing forward or joining the transition in the box, Ashby can do it all.
“He does these things with such a proficiency that it really gives us a dynamic that other teams can’t compensate for,” head coach Patrick Kilby said. “That’s how good he is.”
Ashby has totaled 13 goals and 12 assists in 14 games for Cape this season.
The Vikings’ only loss was the game Ashby missed against Sussex Tech. It was because of two yellow cards against Indian River.
“It was terrible experience, but I think it was good for us collectively as a team,” Ashby said. “It proves we can be beaten, and we have to work day-in and day-out if you want to win the state championship.”
In the season finale against Dover, a 8-2 Cape win, Ashby had three goals in the first half.
The goals showed Ashby’s technical ability and knack for the game.
The first he chested down a pass, drove to the box and slipped the ball past the goalkeeper.
The second he bounced on a ball in the box to knock it home.
Finally, he curled one from distance with his left foot just outside the box.
“On the technical side of the ball, there are not many players in the state that compare with his technical ability,” Kilby said.
Ashby always played soccer when he was young, along with baseball. But he said at age 13 is when he committed to soccer.
“I decided this is what I want to do — play soccer in college,” he said.
Once Ashby decided he wanted to play at the next level, that was his main focus — along with his studies.
He certainly put in the work.
His parents, Jay and Nancy Ashby, never had to tell Jack to put in extra work. That’s what impressed his mother the most.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s a special kid. He has a lot of heart. He’s committed to everything he does. He never gives up.”
Jay Ashby is the varsity girls coach at Cape and an assistant on the boys team. He said it’s been fun watching Jack grow as a player, and he is most proud of his work ethic outside the soccer season.
“Jack’s offseason work is why he is where he is,” Jay Ashby said. “The end of last season in November, we’ve done nothing but train. He’s been to camps, doing a lot of work because he wanted to play at the next level.”
But since 13, Jack Ashby has always been committed, playing year-round.
Watching his game, it’s tough to point out one fantastic aspect because no matter what he is doing, it’s done the right way.
Ashby intends to attend Lynchburg College, studying medicine and playing for the soccer team — a solid division III program who was in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Much like the way he goes about his game, Kilby said he was amazed how well Ashby took on the challenge of senior year.
“The way he handled himself, juggling multiple college trips, senior-year coursework, juggling family responsibilities, responsibilities to the team, the way he handles himself is a true professional,” Kilby said.
All of these characteristics off the field come right back to his soccer quality.
He can do it all.
And with only the playoffs left in his career, there’s just one goal left.
“We came in and knew we would be a contender for the state championship,” Ashby said. “So that’s what we’re looking to do.”
On Twitter/Instagram: @ByRyanMarshall