Twenty-nine goals ago, senior forward and co-captain Ashlin Yahr was just one of seven new additions to the Columbia women’s soccer team in 2008. She has always put her team first, but like Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” theory proposes, her individual prowess has been for the benefit of all.
“By not being super focused on individual success and wanting to score, it helps me stay connected with the team,” Yahr said. “They see that I am here for the team and I want to do my best for everyone.”
Yahr played 101 minutes of Sunday’s double overtime 2-2 tie against Yale, meaning she had just nine minutes of rest. Although she was noticeably fatigued in the later minutes, Yahr continued sprinting till the very end and gave the Bulldogs’ defense trouble. She ripped six shots in the game, four of them on frame, and two found the back of the net. With 63 minutes played in the game, Columbia trailed the Bulldogs 1-0, looking defeated. Four minutes later, the score was 2-1. Yahr had provided her dose of heroics for the Lions once again. She is primarily focused on the success of her team, but she is reaching personal milestones and climbing the charts in the process.
“I had quite a few chances and was getting a little frustrated because I couldn’t score them, and I think my two goals happened because of such great teamwork from everyone,” Yahr said. “One was a great long ball by Shannon [FitzPatrick], who placed it perfectly so I could tap it in, and then another one by Marissa [Schultz], who laid off a nice ball for me. All of the teamwork eventually paid off for us with our passing and being able to stay connected together.”
Twenty-eight goals after her first against Iona in September 2008, Yahr sits one away from tying the all-time record in the history of Columbia women’s soccer.
“It’s a very good representation of how much she’s contributed to the program,” head coach Kevin McCarthy said. “I know that we’re all pulling for her to match that record if not go beyond it—it’s obviously going to help us in our final game, if that happens. It would be something really great for Ashlin to achieve.”
Yahr’s accomplishments have put her in good company. The current leader in goals scored at Columbia is Elizabeth “Tosh” Forde, CC ’99, who scored 30 goals while playing for the Light Blue. Forde also holds all-time records for goals in a single season (17 in 1996), points in a single season (47 in 1996), and career points (86). Forde was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
“It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve had such an impact on this team and to be able to be up there in the standings with the other great women who have played for this team,” Yahr said.
If Yahr reaches this milestone, it would not be her first record at Columbia. In 2008, during her freshman season, Yahr set the school record for rookie players with 10 goals. She has been consistently recognized as a threat in the Ivy League in all four years with the Lions, working her way up from second team All-Ivy in her freshman and sophomore years to first team All-Ivy in 2010.
“She’s a much more complete player,” McCarthy said. “She’s technically at a much higher level. She powers other players around her in ways that she didn’t when she was younger.”
“I think I’ve just become more confident and stronger as a player, and my technical skills have improved a lot,” Yahr said.
The Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., native has a knack for scoring game winners. In her sophomore year, Yahr scored the winning goal for Columbia against Iona, Penn, and Cornell. The Quakers and Big Red continued to feel Yahr’s wrath in her junior year, as did Hartford.
Yahr has one more chance to tie and possibly break the record during her career at Columbia, as the Lions play their final contest of 2011 this Saturday against Harvard.
For her last game as a Lion, Yahr hopes to walk off the field with renewed joy for the sport she has played since early childhood.
“There are certain games where you come off the field and just feel really awesome,” Yahr said. “I obviously want to score two more goals, and I would like to win, but overall just having the love for the game at the end of the day.”