Culture Of CARE Key To Ashland Girls Soccer Success

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

Jensen Shipp is Ashland High’s new girls varsity soccer coach and one of his goals for his first season is to create a culture of CARE. And, if his players quickly embrace what the letters stand for, then success likely will follow and lead to a tournament berth.
“It’s all about being competitive, accountable, respectful and enjoying every day,’’ said Shipp, who was the Clockers’ jayvee coach the last two years. “Being competitive includes practice and games and being accountable means in the classroom as well as on the field. Respect involves the way players treat coaches, teammates and their community. And, enjoyment is about being with people who share common goals.’’
Shipp’s prime focus for his players is “to be the best they can be’’ and also “to develop competitors that can get to a higher level.’’ Ashland won only three matches last year but Shipp is optimistic his squad can earn a tournament berth. “Qualifying is realistic and another objective is to advance as far as possible,’’ he noted.
Eleven seniors make up half his roster and many of them are three-or four-year veterans. And, the 2018 squad has six returning starters.
“Experience is one of our strengths,’’ said Shipp, who was a midfielder and back at Algonquin Regional. “Other assets include strong overall skills, passion for the game, and coachable players with a high soccer IQ. Our depth is good and we still have players who are developing.’’
The Clockers, who started their season with a 1-2 record (both losses by 2-1 margins), are led by a trio of senior captains — Jess Bredin, Sarah Simpson and Jess Rodrigues.
“Jess (Bredin) raises the bar for her teammates,’’ Shipp noted. “A center midfielder, she fights for the ball and she can dribble, pass and score. Sarah is an outside midfielder who has speed, glides past defenders and creates scoring opportunities. She’s an offensive midfielder who can score and accumulate assists. Jess (Rodrigues) is our anchor as a center defensive midfielder. She’s aggressive, has good field awareness, is instinctive and reads the game well. All three are adept in transition.’’
Other senior midfielders include Elena Pellegrini, who also plays forward; Eva Gorman; Isabella Tirabassi, who also alternates at forward; and Makayla Lakin. “Elena has speed and is a hard-worker,’’ Shipp said. “Eva is a smart, composed player and Isabella is skilled and very dangerous with the ball. Makayla is a hard-working, aggressive competitor.’’
The other four seniors who form Ashland’s core group are Caitlin Curran and Nina Gigliotti at center back, defender Heather Turner and goalie Lily Orr. “Caitlin is a strong competitor, a warrior,’’ Shipp emphasized. “Nina is smart, resilient and skilled while Heather is a fighter who’s got good speed and Lily is composed and understands the game.’’
The 29-year-old Shipp expects Tri Valley League teams to present a variety of challenges and he points to Dover-Sherborn, Medway, Medfield and Holliston as squads that “are well-coached, traditionally strong and possessing lots of talent.’’ He added that “it’ll be a challenge but it’s a challenge we look forward to embracing.’’
A UMass-Amherst graduate who majored in sports management, Shipp works as an aide in special education at the Peaslee School in Northboro. He’s currently working on a masters degree in education at American International College.
When assembling his roster, Shipp, who played a year of college soccer at Suffolk University before transferring to UMass, selects candidates who possess all or many of the attributes he believes make a soccer player well-rounded.
“I look for players who work hard, accept feedback, have good technique and purpose, are comfortable with or without the ball, have speed and quickness and possess a high soccer IQ,’’ he emphasized. “Accepting feedback is all about fixing or correcting any deficiency they may have. It’s about being coachable.’’
When Shipp was a senior at Algonquin, he competed for a program that enjoyed perennial success. The Tomahawks lost to St. John’s Prep of Danvers in the Division 1 State final in 2006 but Shipp helped his teammates get to the finale when he scored a clutch goal in the Sectional quarterfinals against Wachusett.
“The game went to overtime, then was eventually settled on penalty shots,’’ Shipp said. “I scored on the last shot and that win kept us alive.’’
Competing at a high level and on a big stage during tourney time, Shipp no doubt learned valuable life lessons as a high school and college player. He’s hoping to emphasize some of the key concepts he experienced.
“Sports teach players to be accountable and responsible,’’ he said. “And, athletes learn how to overcome adversity and become resilient. I want our players to also be committed to the game because others are counting on them. Team effort is what’s so important.’’
The Ashland girls soccer team isn’t an automatic choice for a tourney berth but don’t discount the Clockers future. It should be bright.