BERLIN - Berlin girls soccer star Ashley Wenzel had no doubt about where she wanted to continue her playing career.
Wenzel’s college candidates were kept to a single destination, one she finalized last week by signing on to play at Assumption College, a Division II school in Worcester, Massachusetts. For Wenzel, the decision was a simple one, but the path leading up to that decision was anything but easy.
“With my injury last year and covid in the spring, it was difficult to have coaches come to see me play,” Wenzel said. “With the recruiting dead period, it was hard to talk to coaches too. But over the course of the fall, it really opened up.”
Last year’s injury, a broken leg suffered in the final scrimmage before the 2019 season opener, sidelined Wenzel for the entire campaign, and a portion of the girls basketball season. Wenzel’s recovery included a grueling rehab, and when she was finally ready to get back on the field in the spring, a global pandemic had other ideas. As Wenzel began to prepare for her senior season, which remained in question until the fall season was greenlit in September, Wenzel wasn’t sure how she would get on college teams’ radars, a challenge she didn’t anticipate after being named to the All-State team as a sophomore in 2018.
“I was really nervous,” Wenzel said. “I knew I wanted to play and after being hurt last year, I figured I would still get to play in the spring. Then that didn’t happen, so going through summer it was really nerve-wracking.”
Fortunately for Wenzel, she had her coaches helping get her recruiting process off the ground. Berlin head coach Alex Joslyn, along with Wenzel’s premier coach at Oakwood Soccer Club, Todd Sadler, reached out to colleges about Wenzel, and Assumption showed interest. It was the only one Wenzel would need.
“I talked to the coach [Grace Barnard] and loved her as a person and a coach, and when I toured the school, I just loved it in general,” Wenzel said.
It was on that visit to Assumption that Wenzel knew she had found her home for the next four years.
“Through my conversations with the coach and after my visit, I just knew that was a place I could see myself fitting into with the team culture and environment,” Wenzel said. “I could see myself fitting in with a great team there.”
Wenzel toured the school in October, when her shortened senior season was just beginning, and by committing to play for the Greyhounds, Wenzel was able to soak in her final season with the Redcoats and embrace being healthy and back on the field again, rather than stressing over potential unknowns when it came to her future.
“It’s definitely a huge relief,” Wenzel said. “I finally found a place that I feel like will be like home. I’m really excited for next year. It’s a big relief knowing I’m happy and excited with my decision.”
In her farewell season at Berlin, Wenzel finished the year with eight goals and nine assists, four of those goals coming in her first home game back from injury. After struggling through injury and unknowns for the past year, Wenzel was able to play her full senior year with the knowledge that her next step was already set, something that couldn’t be said just a few short months ago. But her commitment to Assumption allowed her to enjoy her final games with the Redcoats, closing a career that included 40 goals and 21 assists.
“The past four years have been nothing but great,” Wenzel said. “It’s really helped me get to this point I can’t thank everyone enough who has supported me for helping me get here. It worked out perfectly, so I’m grateful for that. It’s a huge relief knowing I’m going somewhere I want to be.”
Berlin will be acknowledging Wenzel’s commitment with a signing ceremony on Friday.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com