Soellner treasures Navy’s tradition

Hollidaysburg graduate Ashlynn Soellner has scored 26 collegiate goals, led the Patriot League in assists and has made the league’s first-team all-star squad during her four years on the Navy women’s soccer team.

Yet, when asked what the most memorable moment of her college career is so far, the answer has nothing to do with individual accomplishments.

“Actually, just being on the team in general has meant so much,” Soellner said. “We talk about playing for the players who came before us. A lot of special women have played here and gone on to do special things in life. You get to step in their shoes, and hopefully the girls who follow us will look at us the same way.”

Navy went 15-4 overall and 8-1 in the Patriot League in the regular season and clinched the No. 1 seed in the league tournament. Navy will host a semifinal game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The clincher came on Oct. 27 when the Midshipmen defeated Loyola, Md., 3-0, on senior night.

That game was also Soellner’s best of the season. She scored two goals to double her total for the year in front of her entire family.

“Senior day is a big day here,” Soellner said. “We celebrate the entire careers of our seniors, and to help us win that game for the other seniors meant a lot.

“Both of my parents made it, and my brother Brandon surprised me by also coming and walking on the field with me. It was a special day.”

Soellner had her best offensive season at Navy a year ago, scoring 10 goals and registering a league-high nine assists. She also led Navy with six goals each in her freshman and sophomore years.

“She’s been an impact player for us,” Navy coach Carin Gabarra said. “She can change games, and she does so often. She’s a good defender along with a goal scorer and she’s just an integral part of our attack.”

This year, Soellner has also taken on the role of leader.

“Our seniors lead our team. It’s part of the fabric of the Naval Academy,” Gabarra said. “Ashlynn trains hard, is a good influence on her teammates and is very respected by our younger players.”

Assuming it wins in the semifinals, Navy will host the Patriot League championship game for the second consecutive year on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Midshipmen lost to Colgate last year and fell in the championship on the road the year before.

“We have come so close the last two years,” Soellner said. “We have to find our spark this weekend. We are going to play teams that are out to get us. We have to have a good week, because this could be it for us seniors.

“It’s going to come down to who has the most heart, and we’ll be out there trying our hardest.”

Soellner’s father Dave, who coaches Hollidaysburg’s high school girls soccer team, said a championship would mean a lot to his daughter.

“It would be really awesome from a family point of view seeing Navy win,” Dave Soellner said. “If they win, they get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and that’s always been a dream for her. It would be a cool thing to see them be able to do that.”

Win or lose, Soellner will graduate this spring and take a position as a surface warfare officer. She isn’t sure where she’ll be stationed, but she will be a division officer on her ship.

“I wouldn’t change my decision to go to Navy for the world,” Soellner said. “You have times that you think, ‘what am I doing here?’ or ‘what did I get myself into?’ but you have to go through that adversity.

“Being here is amazing. We all help each other through, and when you think about what you are going to do for your country, it means so much.”

Gabarra has faith Soellner will continue to be a success after her soccer career is over.

“She’s been a pleasure to coach,” Gabarra said. “She’s always here on time, trains hard and looks out for the team. She’s the full package. She’s going to move on from here and be a great leader at whatever she does.”