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Diminutive Hereford lacrosse player comes up big on field

Hereford coach Brian King recalled that Jason Ashwood was the smallest player on the varsity in the spring of 2011.

“I think he weighed like 85 pounds,” said King, slightly exaggerating the issue for effect.

It was actually 100 pounds.

“He was kind of the crowd favorite because he was so small,” King said. “We had a nickname for him. We called him, ‘Little Man’. He doesn’t answer to that anymore.”

Ashwood, now a rising senior, has developed into standout player and will attend High Point University in North Carolina on a lacrosse scholarship.

He’s grown 6 inches and gained 40 pounds in the last two years.

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound attackman helped Hereford to its sixth straight state championship last spring by scoring four goals in a 13-3 rout of Glenelg on May 22.

Moreover, Ashwood also scored 11 goals in six games, including notching three in a semifinal win over Philadelphia, as the Baltimore boys all-stars earned their first Under Armour Lacrosse Underclass title at Towson University on July 7.

“He was a real force on attack,” Baltimore all-stars coach Tom Marechek said. “Every time he touched the ball, he made things happen, whether it was a goal, assist or grabbing a loose ball. He is fearless. He would go one-one-one with anybody.” 

King thinks Ashwood’s success on the lacrosse field was fueled by the rap on his size.

“He’s got a giant chip on his shoulder,” King said. “By having people telling him he is too small, it keep him working hard. Whether it’s his diet, lifting weights or extra shooting, the kid just keeps getting better.”

Ashwood, who is playing for the Chesapeake Rock club team this summer, agrees about the assessment of size.

“I am small, but I can still do anything anyone else can,” he said. “(Having to overcome doubters) definitely helps me mentally and it helps me work harder off the field.”

He’s scored a goal in the last three Hereford state championship contests.

“The bigger the game, the better he plays,” King said of Ashwood, who totaled 60 goals and 43 assists as a junior. “He can score multiple ways. He can score inside. He can score off a pick. He can score by (stationary) shooting. He can score off a dodge. He is versatile.”

Despite his prolific production at the prep level, some recruiters have backed away.

“For some colleges, depending on how much they were looking at me, they might have just seen my name and cross it off just because I was smaller,” he said. “Some others watched me play in multiple games and realized I am small, but that it doesn’t hinder me too much when I play.”

Fair on unfair, another stigma hanging over Ashwood and his Hereford teammates is that the Bulls do not play in the highly competitive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, even though they beat Gilman and dropped relatively close contests to Loyola Blakefield and St. Paul’s early in the 2013 season.

Yet Ashwood and another Hereford standout, 5-foot-9, 160-pound rising senior midfielder Adam Ceribelli, proved they could go toe-to-toe with MIAA teammates in the Under Armour Underclass Lacrosse tournament.

Ceribelli racked up seven goals and five assists in six games for the champs.

“We have always been the underdogs,” Ceribelli said. “We knew we could play with the best kids in the MIAA and the nation. And we showed we could.”

Ceribelli, who will attend Towson University on a lacrosse scholarship, played with Ashwood and the rest of the Bulls in the National Lacrosse High School Showcase at the Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in Parkton, July 12-14.

“Jason and I have been playing together as long as I can remember,” Ceribelli said of the two starting their careers in the Hereford rec program. “We have always looked up to the class above us. Now that we are seniors, we want to be leading and building up for another run at a state championship.”

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