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Connellsville's Grimm to play Division I soccer at St. Francis

| Sunday, May 11, 2014, 10:21 p.m.
Jason Black | Daily Courier
Connellsville High School senior Ashton Grimm (seated, center) has chosen to further her education and play soccer at St. Francis University. Seated with her are her parents Chris and Jim. Standing in back, from left is Connellsville athletic director Jim Lembo, Connellsville girls soccer coach Jeff Puskar and Connellsville principal Nick Bosnic.

Connellsville senior Ashton Grimm has enjoyed playing soccer since she was a young girl, and this fall, she will have the opportunity to continue playing the sport.

Grimm will play soccer for St. Francis. The Red Flash are the defending Division I Northeast Conference champions.

She plans to major in biology andwill be one of nine incoming freshmen players.

“It's pretty exciting,” Grimm said. “It's overwhelming, but it's a good overwhelming.”

Having the chance to play Division I soccer is a dream come true for the 17-year-old.

“At first (playing soccer) was just for fun when I was little,” Grimm said. “But once I got to the high school level, it was more of a goal, and it's what I wanted to do.”

Grimm shined throughout her career at Connellsville. She was a four-year starter and recorded 51 goals and 30 assists, playing primarily as a striker. She earned All-WPIAL and All-Section 1-AAA honors in her junior and senior seasons. She also was named the MVP of the All-Section 1-AAA game this past season.

While Grimm was a standout offensive force in high school, she might be called upon to use her speed as a defender with the Red Flash. She said she is open to helping the team in any way she can. However, she said making a transition from offense to defense might be challenging.

“I've never played defense before,” Grimm said. “That's what (Red Flash coach Brenda Van Stralen) is looking for me to play, but if I can prove I can play offense, that's what I would like to do.”

Van Stralen thinks Grimm will be an asset to the program.

“We are excited that Ashton committed to us,” Van Stralen said. “She will be a player who, after training within our system and philosophy, will only grow and become a strong player for us.”

Grimm also was a starter on the basketball team and sprinter on the track team in high school. She served as the secretary of the Connellsville National Honor Society.

Now that her time in high school is coming to a close, she is anticipating her new beginning at St. Francis.

“I'm looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends, and I'm excited to travel to different places,” Grimm said.

Grimm already is familiar with one of her new teammates. Mt. Pleasant senior Jordan Toohey also will play soccer at St. Francis. The two played together in the Foothills Soccer Club.

While making the transition from high school to college won't be easy, Connellsville girls soccer coach Jeff Puskar thinks Grimm will do just fine at the next level.

“She became a leader, and the girls looked up to her,” Puskar said. “I'm really happy for her to have this opportunity. Her hard work and dedication allowed her to improve over the last four years. She is a tenacious athlete, and she hates to lose. Eventually, through her hard work, they'll put her in, and she'll have a successful career.”

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