Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Loyola defender Ashley Moulton, a fourth-year starter from Rochester, N.Y. A key component in a defense holding opponents to 9.45 goals per game, Moulton is preparing for the No. 20 Greyhounds' critical four-game road swing in Big East play beginning at undefeated and No. 5 Notre Dame on Friday night.
An elementary education major, Moulton will return to Baltimore in the fall to complete her student teaching before following in the footsteps of her mother, Diane Moulton, working with autistic children. She also would like to coach lacrosse, something she has done on the club level since she was an Under Armour All-American at East Rochester High.
Why did you come to Loyola?
I actually came here because Jen [Loyola coach Jen Adams] had already been here for a year and I knew she was really looking to improve the program. I wanted to come and help build the program back up and become champions. That's always been my goal, to win a national championship. Having two Big East [titles] has been awesome. And also our education program is unbelievable, so it's nice to have the lacrosse program, which is on the rise, and to have the school portion, which is the major I wanted and they're so known for it. And the weather [laughs]. It's always cold at home, so I came here for sunshine, too.
Have you always played defense?
No. I played middie my whole life, but more because I had to. I came from a small school. We only had like 14 people on our team, so you kind of had to do it all, but I always loved defense the most. That's what I wanted to focus on, so my last tournament before I signed with Loyola, I played defense, which is where Jen saw me.
What's your favorite thing about playing defense?
It's really rewarding to me. I like the feeling of having my teammates' backs. I don't care about scoring at all really. I like being able to try to stop people from doing something they need to do to win the game. Every time it's a one-v-one, it's a competition for me. I take it very personally, so down on defense, we'll make our own little games, getting knockdowns and interceptions. Holding out a girl, that's an accomplishment for me just like attack has to score.
Your team graduated some very good defenders, so what's the biggest challenge in rebuilding this defense?
I don't even think it was rebuilding. It's more everyone just stepping up, and it's all flowing very nicely. I've been playing with these girls for the past three years. I have a connection with them off the field. It was so easy to transition on the field. I feel like this year we're still rocking it down there and having fun. We did lose some great defenders, but there were great ones that came in right behind them.
How has the defense grown to this point in the season?
I think we're getting really comfortable with each other, so it's become more automatic than, "Does she need my help? Does she not need my help?" Everyone kind of knows their roles and knows their strengths and their weaknesses. We just play our roles. We don't do anything crazy. We just try to stay disciplined. We're really focusing on not checking. I think we've done a really good job of limiting our fouls. We're all just playing as one. No one's going outside of the plan, and it's really been working.
Your team has struggled with the draw this season. How does that impact a defense?
The draw's definitely been a weakness here and there, and it does hurt when we don't have that initial possession, but I think we've been doing a really good job of making that one stop and getting it back for the attack. It's like, "We've got your back here, and now you're going to have ours and score." We've done a lot better job, when we don't get it, of not getting frustrated."
What will be critical for the defense heading into the upcoming Big East road games?
It's just important for us to stay focused and stay disciplined. That's our big word — discipline. In practice if we swing, we get taken out. We want to get it ingrained in our head [to play defense with the] whole body. The biggest thing is we need to keep teams off the eight [-meter arc]. We don't want to give up those free shots and … if we don't follow the plan, then we foul and put a girl on the eight and that kind of ruins the flow of our defense. We can hold teams out for five minutes at a time. With the Big East teams, everyone's so good. Every one-on-one attacker we're going to play now is great. We've got to keep disciplined. We've been working on that, and I think it's gotten immensely better. If we follow the plan, it will hopefully frustrate them and empower us.
What made you want to be an in-house educator rather than a schoolteacher?
My mom works in a private business, Bright Start Pediatrics in Rochester, and she works with children with autism. That's what I want to do. She goes into the home and works with children before they go to school. They also have play groups at their building and the families come there too, so basically they're working with the families to help them help their kids. The kids go to school and they're getting great help at school, but then they go home and the parents are unsure how to help their children the best way, so my mom helps the parents and families and the kids. It's a really cool, effective program. Everyone calls my mom their guardian angel, and I want to do that.
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