When it comes to individual honors, University of Cincinnati junior Ashley Barron has stacked up quite a resume. The star defender was an All-AAC First Team performer in her first two seasons at UC and 2020 AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Plus, she was selected as the 2021 AAC Preseason Defender of the Year and named to the 2021 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
“Receiving an honor of this magnitude is something I have dreamed of as a child,” Barron told BGN. “I feel so blessed and grateful that the soccer community sees so much potential in me, but I could not be the player I am without this amazing team by my side.”
“My teammates and coaching staff challenge me physically, emotionally and mentally everyday no matter the topic at training or film. This team is so determined, relentless and hardworking that they make it easy to want to be better everyday that I get to play with them. I have learned so much already in my time here at UC and this team strives for excellence in whatever we do. They are just as crucial to my success as anything else and just as deserving of every award.”
While she is an elite defender at the NCAA level, Ashley was a highly-productive forward at Notre Dame Academy in high school, tallying over 60 goals and nearly 30 assists. “During my high school career I played forward all 4 years,” she said. “I played defense during my club seasons and occasionally played as a forward.”
“Playing as a forward gave me the ability to understand more of what they are looking to do and allows me to read things quicker in my own way. It also helped with my ability to strike a ball from the back line to a target player with accuracy, similar to striking a ball on frame of the goal.”
She’s continued to develop at Cincinnati to best help the team. “Personally, I have been focusing a lot of time on my technical side of the ball to provide another layer to our defense in possession of the ball,” Ashley said.
With Barron starting on the backline in all but one match, Cincinnati is off to a 6-5-2 start, including a 4-1-2 record at home. Comparing this year’s team to previous teams she’s played on at UC, Ashley said, “This year’s team is so committed to perfecting the small details that make us 1% better in every area of the field. We work endlessly on these details that can win or lose us the game and it makes us stronger overall.”
The team is also motivated by the memory of their late teammate, Ally Sidloski. “To know Ally was to love Ally,” Barron said. “Her smile brightened up every room she walked into and her light was felt by everyone who was lucky enough to know her. She suffered through many injuries and her resilience to come back stronger each time is still so inspiring.”
“I only had the pleasure of playing with her a few times but those few moments I will cherish forever.”
— Cincinnati Women's Soccer (@GoBearcatsWSOC) September 4, 2021
She added, “We Play for 3 is UC Women’s Soccer’s “why” this season. Ally would not want us to honor her in any other way than fighting with everything we have this entire season to get back to a championship game.
“We Play for 3 is a constant reminder that Ally will always be with us in some way, which could be different for everyone on our team, but she will be there.”
On Sunday, the Bearcats will host #20-ranked SMU at Gettler Stadium (kickoff 1 PM ET, live on ESPN+). For Barron, a Toledo native, there is an extra level of pride getting to showcase her skills in her home state. “It is so special getting to play in my home state and represent my hometown only a few hours away,” she explained. “Playing at Cincinnati is something I will forever be grateful for. Having the opportunity to play here is something I had hoped for while going through the recruiting process and I have everyone who pushed me to be better in high school to thank for that.”
Off the pitch, Ashley definitely enjoys life in the Queen City. “My favorite part of living in Cincinnati is how diverse the city is,” she said. “There are so many different things to do whether that be eating out, hanging with friends or catching sporting events.”
“There’s a never ending list of things to try and places to visit and it’s very refreshing to have things to do on days away from soccer.”