South Jersey girls soccer star adds to legacy, scores 100th career goal

Before the program’s Greatest scorer walked through the halls at Holy Cross Prep, a letter arrived over the summer in 2019 laying out the type of player that the South Jersey school was getting.

Holy Cross Prep Coach Sergio Torres knew the club Coach that the note came from and he trusted every word of it, but it still couldn’t prepare him for what was to come. It didn’t take long for him to see it with his own eyes and marvel at it though Ashley Baran made it clear that she was a different breed.

The Rutgers commit has hit a milestone three years later that not many scorers have hit. On Tuesday, Baran scored two goals against Burlington Township and hit the century mark – 100 career goals.

“When I saw her in preseason, it was just like, ‘Woah.’ You could tell right from the jump,” said Torres. “There were some good players on those teams, but she was the best one out there as a freshman. She started to score and we’re all watching this and I talked to the boys coaches about her and they were just like, ‘What the hell.’ She scored game after game after game, and no one wants to say it because it’s like a pitcher with a perfect game, but you could see she had the chance to be a 100-goal scorer. After a while though, it wasn’t a matter of will she; it was when. It has been awesome to watch.”

Baran has scored in all but one of the games that she has played at Holy Cross Prep.

The star striker finished with 29 goals as a Rookie and put the state on notice, but then a COVID year put her pursuit of 100 goals in question. Baran responded by averaging two goals per game that fall and leading her team to a South West E championship. She scored twice against Camden Catholic in the title game.

Last year, Baran got back on track and set a career-high with 33 goals.

Holy Cross Prep started slow in 2021, but down the stretch, this team was unbeatable. The Lancers went on a 12-game unbeaten streak to close the year and Baran scored 23 goals during that run. She helped elevate the team. Holy Cross Prep took that momentum and carried it over into this fall.

This South Jersey Squad has been perfect so far, winning its first six games.

Baran is scorching hot again on offense and has a state-best 17 goals. The senior is standing out in an area of ​​the country that is loaded with star playmakers, and Baran is arguably the best there is in New Jersey.

“It’s been amazing. I’m a soccer head and for someone like me to see someone like this play and be a part of it, it has been Incredible as a coach,” Torres said about Baran, whose twin sister, Madison, is another star senior for this team. “Ashley can score, she can draw attention, she can distribute. She’s really a complete player and a lot of that stems from her technical ability. I know there are a lot of good players and I don’t want to downplay anyone else by saying it’s like no other, but it’s special. She can use both feet, she can do it at pace and she has a cannon with both legs. She’s as sound as any player that I have ever seen.”

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Brandon Gould can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonGouldHS.

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