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Article Published November 8, 2018
Rivera Never Rests on Defense for the Easties
PJ Foti, Sports Writer

Ashlie Rivera attends the Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven, but suits up to play for the girls’ soccer team at East Haven High School. Now a senior, Ashlie is in her third season as a member of the Yellowjackets.

Ashlie moved from Hamden to East Haven prior to her sophomore year of high school. While she was initially concerned with how she’d fit in with her new group of teammates, Ashlie says that everyone on the squad welcomed her with open arms.

“I started to get along with them very well,” says Ashlie. “We had a group chat as a team, and that’s how we connected to stay together and communicate. That’s how I got along with the girls.”

Ashlie is a student ambassador at the Metropolitan Business Academy, an inter-district magnet school that offers a full college preparatory program. Ashlie decided to attend the school, because it provides her with the chance to take classes in fields that she’s interested in going into down the road.

“What brought me to Metropolitan Business Academy was they have different pathways there. They have finance, law, technology, and health classes,” says Ashlie. “I’m more interested in health and law, so that’s what I’ve been studying. I’ve been doing more health classes to get better educated on a possible heath career.”

Ashlie started playing soccer she was five, and she’s seen time at practically every position on the pitch throughout her career. She’s even stepped into the net to play goalie.

“When I started, I was always a [midfielder] or a forward. One year, our goalie was no longer going to play with us, so I decided to step up and be a goalkeeper,” Ashlie says. “I took six months of goalie training, and I have that experience, so if we run into a situation where we need a goalie, I know I can do it. I can also be any type of defender.”

Ashlie’s performance on defense has proved huge for East Haven during the 2018 season. After previously playing right midfielder, Ashlie moved to the left back position for Head Coach Jake Hackett’s squad this year. Hackett says that Ashlie gives a maximum effort in every circumstance.

“She is the type of kid who works hard no matter what. She sees the value in hard work and is a great teammate,” says Hackett. “She is going to try 100 percent no matter where she is on the field. She is really brave and willing to do whatever is needed for the team. That is a very special player to have.”

Ashlie says that transitioning from the midfield to defense came with its fair share of challenges. However, she received a big boost of support from her fellow members of the Yellowjackets’ defensive corps.

“It was really hard for me, because I didn’t know how well I’d do, because it has been a long time since I played defense. So, I was worried about being a consistent defender,” Ashlie says. “I knew I’d take on a big role, but all the girls on the defensive line helped me understand where I needed to be and how to check in when I needed to. It was so great that they helped me understand where I should be during any situation.”

East Haven turned in a solid regular season that saw the team post a record of 7-6-3 to qualify for the Class L State Tournament this fall. Ashlie feels proud that she helped the Easties make states for the first time in several years.

“It’s an exciting feeling to go to states. To make it this year is such an honor,” she says. “Coach has put so much work to getting us to where we need to be. I’m honestly so proud they’re committed and so prepared for the games.”

With her high-school soccer career coming to a close, Ashlie says that she would like to continue playing the sport at the next level. Ashlie is looking at several colleges, including a few schools that offer a women’s soccer program.

“Instead of playing a club sport, I’d rather it be a division sport, so I’m very interested in that. Most schools that I look at have sports, and I want to find that, because I’ve always played. It’s something I want to continue to do,” Ashlie says. “I still have a lot of options and love the schools I’ve already seen. I’m still open to looking at more.”