Ashland’s O’Donnell — A Pro-active Force In Lacrosse

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

Abby O’Donnell is the kind of lacrosse player who thrives on being pro-active — she likes to make things happen.
Ashland High’s 5-foot-9 senior plays attack and she’s got all the attributes that not only have helped her to excel in that role, but have also elevated her to all-star status and into a captain’s post this season. O’Donnell, who scored 34 goals and had 30 assists for the Clockers last year, can shoot, pass and quickly assess where a defense is vulnerable. Her field sense and her ability to anticipate how a play will unfold make her a breed apart.
“I try to be creative and instinctive,’’ O’Donnell said. “If I see a lane open, I take it. What’s important when playing attack is to make all your moves count. And, field sense is a key when passing to the cutters.’’
O’Donnell’s style is often deliberate, willing to slow the pace and analyze where Ashland should attack. But, if the Clockers are trailing or tied and there’s not much time left, then O’Donnell shifts into high gear and revs up the tempo aiming to make something happen.
“Abby has great read-and-react ability,’’ said coach Jessica Spencer. “She’s an extremely versatile player, willing to compete wherever I need her. On offense, she’s able to score on a hard, quick shot and she passes effectively. As a captain, she’s positive on and off the field and we hope that she, our other captains and seniors will lead us to a tourney berth.’’
The last time the Clockers earned a tourney date was 2015, when O’Donnell was a freshman. Her goal in this, her final season, is for a playoff return. “I was called up to the varsity as a freshman but didn’t play in the tourney game,’’ O’Donnell recalled. “My goal isn’t just to get to the tourney, it’s to go as far as possible. We’re a young team but we’ve got talent and that makes our goals realistic and attainable.’’
O’Donnell’s individual objectives include improving her goals and assist statistics but she’s also intent on sharpening her leadership skills. “My top thrill in lacrosse occurred last spring when I was voted to be one of the captains,’’ she noted. “I’ll lead by example but I’ll also be vocal in a positive way, making sure all the girls are involved in our offense. I think it’s cool to be a team leader and to be supportive of the younger players.’’
At Local Town Pages deadline, Ashland had a 1-2 record and O’Donnell had 10 goals.
Four players O’Donnell views as key contributors include captains Meghan Moriarty (defender) and midfielder Maddy Hornung, and also defender Sam LeBlanc and attack Caitlin Curran.
“Meghan is a defensive leader and a vocal captain,’’ O’Donnell said. “Maddy is fast and an aggressive offensive player. Sam works hard on defense and is a solid leader for our younger players while Caitlin is a reliable scorer on offense.’’
O’Donnell showed how reliable she is on offense in games against Holliston, Hopkinton and Norton last year. “We trailed Holliston by four goals at the half but we went into high gear and edged them, 11-10. I had two goals. Against Hopkinton, in a game we lost, I scored five of our eight goals, and in a game we won against Norton, I had four goals and four assists. ’’
A three-year varsity player in volleyball where she was a middle hitter, O’Donnell was a TVL all-star and also a captain as a senior. She’s a National Honor Society student who’ll attend Purdue University where she’ll major in engineering. A Division 1 school in the Big-10 Conference, O’Donnell’s volleyball and lacrosse experiences could continue at Purdue at the club level. “It’s something I’ll consider,’’ she said.
Relying on an athletic philosophy of winning, reaching her potential and enjoying a competitive sport, O’Donnell emphasizes that winning is important. “If you’re winning, then you’re likely reaching your potential and winning leads to enjoyment,’’ she said.
O’Donnell also believes that valuable life lessons can be learned in athletics. “I learned key lessons in youth sports and certainly learned more at the varsity level,’’ she said. “Sports have helped me be a better leader and to be a better teammate. I’ve also learned the importance of being objective and making commitments and I’ve learned how to overcome adversity.’’
Calling her parents (John and Amy) role models for their support and encouragement and for coaching her in soccer and lacrosse at the youth level, O’Donnell also is a fan of Spencer, who’s now in her second year as Ashland’s coach. “Coach Spencer was hired a few weeks before our season got underway last year,’’ O’Donnell recalled. “She did a good job, showed lots of energy and is very motivating. She played lacrosse and knows the strategies needed.’’
The Clockers were 6-13 last year, and in spite of competing is a league that features powerhouse teams like Medfield, Dover-Sherborn and Hopkinton, the 2018 season could be a campaign that puts Ashland into contention for a playoff berth.
There are enough veterans returning and a good blend of youth for a tourney date to be realistic. And, with a pro-active attack player like Abby O’Donnell leading the squad, things will happen.
Good things.