Friday’s girls’ soccer contest against McLean already held enough significance for Ashley Herndon. The Stone Bridge senior had hopes of celebrating what would be the fourth Virginia AAA Liberty District title of her career with her teammates. But in reaching this achievement, Herndon’s older brother reminded her that another feat remained ripe for the taking.
“My brother is a big supporter of mine. In getting me pumped up, he reminded me that I was close to 100 goals,” said Herndon, who is signed to play at James Madison. “So I was aware of it, but I was just focused on winning the game and districts.”
Already the most prolific scorer in Stone Bridge, the senior forward netted two goals in the 4-0 victory to reach 23 for the season and 100 for her career. With the Northern Region playoffs beginning with Tuesday’s contest against J.E.B. Stuart, Herndon sits as the top scorer in region history, according to the VHSL record books.
Herndon’s scorer’s mentality stretches back to her childhood. It was then that she and her older brother, Michael, who also played at Stone Bridge and is a rising senior at JMU, began their soccer battles, clearing away the furniture for a makeshift game. After convincing her brother to spot her a few scores, Herndon would relentlessly try to manuever around her stronger sibling.
“We’re both real competitive, so it was really fun and intense,” the first-team All-Met forward said with a laugh. “We would use the doorway as the goal and after someone would score, we’d kick it back to the wall and go at it again.”
By the time Herndon reached the Loudoun 92 Red club team as a middle schooler, her wealth of soccer skills had Stone Bridge Coach Joan Windows anticipating the day Herndon would put on a Bulldog uniform.
“She played on my club team against players two years older than her and she dominated them,” Windows recalled. “You knew she was a special player from the start.”
The Virginia high school scene soon found out the same thing. As a freshman, Herndon registered a school-record 29 goals to help lead the Bulldogs to an undefeated mark and the AAA state title.
“I grew up with great club coaches and the main things we worked on were crossing and finishing,” Herndon said. “When I came in as a freshman, I wasn’t expecting to play that much, but Murielle (Tiernan‘s) crosses are amazing, the system worked and I couldn’t have [reached 100 goals] without my teammates.”
Herndon remembers her first goal coming off an assist from Tiernan, her best friend and the 2012 All-Met Spring Player of the Year. Meantime, No. 100 saw Herndon head the ball into the net off a free kick by Emily Person on Friday. The next day, Herndon again showed her nose for the goal, netting the go-ahead score for the Washington Spirit reserves in their first win of the season.
“She’s such an all-around soccer player,” Windows said. “She’s technically amazing, she has great vision, she’s quick, she finishes well, she’s smart and aggressive. Ashley has every aspect of a truly talented soccer player.”