Not that Burlingame soccer player Ashley Harper needs any more reminders of her first week of Central Coast Section soccer. The sophomore sports a few badges of play: a sprained right hand, a huge, nasty looking turf rash on her lower right leg and a number of bruises on both legs.
Daily Journal Sports File
Burlingame's Ashley Harper, right, scored three goals in two games
Given her performance in two Panthers wins last week, she is feeling no pain. In her first year on the varsity team, Harper scored three goals in two playoff games, including the game winners in both, as Burlingame advanced to the CCS Division II semifinals for the first time since 2010.
For her efforts, Harper is this week's Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
"She has tremendous goal sense and a wicked shot," said Burlingame coach Philip DeRosa. "She has an unrelenting drive to put the ball in the net."
DeRosa, who said Harper usually only plays in five- to 10-minute spurts, was forced into action against sixth-seeded Saratoga last week when Alexis Prieto went down with a shoulder injury with about 20 minutes to play. At the time, the 11th-seeded Panthers were trailing the Falcons 1-0 in the first round of the CCS Division II tournament. About eight minutes after coming into the game, Harper ran onto a long ball over the top of the Saratoga defense before beating the goalkeeper to tie the game at 1.
With seconds left in regulation, Harper beat the defense again and put home the game-winning goal to give the Panthers a stunning 2-1 victory.
"The ref put his whistle in his mouth and was getting ready to blow it (to end regulation)," DeRosa said.
Despite having a reputation as a goal scorer, Harper was stunned to score both goals for the Panthers in their biggest game to date.
"I definitely was not expecting to score two goals that would help go through in CCS," Harper said. "But it was exciting."
Harper was just getting over the shock of beating Saratoga when she was called on to provide the game-winning penalty kick in the Panthers' penalty-kicks win over fifth-seeded Gilroy Saturday in the quarterfinals. Harper was the fifth penalty taker on DeRosa's list and, with the game hinging on Harper's foot, she converted to send the Panthers into the semifinals against second-seeded St. Francis.
Despite the gravity of the situation, DeRosa said Harper didn't even flinch.
"Talk about pressure," DeRosa said. "She didn't even blink with that pressure. I talked to her before (the penalty kicks started) and she said, 'No problem.'"
It helps to be somewhat oblivious to the situation.
"To be completely honest, I didn't know my goal would be it (the winner)," Harper said. "I made it and saw my team running at me. 'Oh. I guess we won.'"
Harper has come off the bench all season and for only a few minutes at a time, a tough adjustment for someone who has been a starting player throughout her club career.
"It was really difficult to watch (games from the bench)," Harper said. "But I knew if I got a chance to play, I had to give it my all."
When she gets into the game, however, she does everything in her power to make her minutes count.
"I just go out as hard as I can for as long as I can," Harper said. "Now that I know I can push myself, I'm just going to keep going forward and pushing myself."
Said DeRosa: "She accepts her role and gives everything she has. What a storybook ending to a great week."