Entering the 2016 season, Cherry Hill High School West girls’ lacrosse junior Ashley Lechliter decided she wanted to try to reach 100 career goals before the end of the year.
It was quite a lofty goal considering she hadn’t even scored 50 in her first two seasons combined.
“I set goals for myself that I want to achieve,” Lechliter said. “This year, it was try to hit 100. So I’ve been going really hard to get the goals.”
Lechliter has become one of the top breakout offensive players in all of South Jersey. After leading Cherry Hill West with six goals in the Lions’ 12–10 win over Williamstown High School on April 23, Lechliter increased her goal total for the season to 44. As of April 25, she was second in the Olympic Conference in goals, with only Seneca High School’s Dani LeSaint ahead of her.
Lechliter admitted she’s aware of where she stands compared to other top scorers in the area, but she doesn’t pay too much attention to the stats.
“My dad keeps track of that stuff,” she said. “He’ll print stuff out and give it to me, so I kind of know.”
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” she added. “I’m just playing the game.”
Head coach Melissa Venturi has worked with Lechliter for a number of years both with Cherry Hill West and South Jersey Devils, the club team Venturi co-owns. She spoke very highly of Lechliter’s play this season.
“She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player,” Venturi said. “She worked really hard on her skills. She’s the type of kid where she goes home, shoots on her net for about an hour to practice. She does extra running. She does extra shooting. She’s worked for every benefit that’s come to her and every single achievement.”
Lechliter’s breakout has been important for the Lions, who started the season with a 3–7 record. In the Lions’ three wins, Lechliter has scored 19 goals. She led the team with a season-high eight goals in a tight, 14–13 win over Kingsway and scored six times in the two-goal win over Williamstown.
“She wants it,” Venturi said. “She has a sense of confidence about her and she wants this program to succeed.”
Lechliter jumped into a lead role offensively for Cherry Hill West this year after the graduation of 2015 leading scorer Lindsey Coyle. Lechliter’s role grew even more after senior Ciara Brickner suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the season.
“I have to get people together now and bring them together,” Lechliter said.
Venturi credited Lechliter and senior Danielle Graham with embracing a leadership role after Brickner went down.
“Ashley and Danielle Graham have really stepped up for us,” Venturi said. “They didn’t hesitate.”
Cherry Hill West has a number of underclassmen playing varsity due to injuries. With such a young team, Lechliter is hoping to get everyone on the same page so the Lions can pick up more wins in the second half of the season.
“We sometimes play separately,” Lechliter said. “We need to come together and play as a team. When we play together as a team, we play really well.”
The good news for Lechliter is her goal of reaching 100 career goals is in reach. She passed the 80-goal mark in the Williamstown game and expects to hit 100 in the next couple of weeks.