State Colleges

Ashley Flinn makes major impact on UM soccer team

To hear one of her teammates tell it, University of Miami soccer standout Ashley Flinn sleeps more than anyone around.

But once Flinn wakes up — which usually happens late in games — she is one of the most dangerous players in the nation.

Just seven games into her junior season, Flinn has already scored three overtime winners.

She also has two other last-minute goals that snapped ties and gave the Hurricanes a win.

Flinn, who has started all 45 of her team’s games since arriving in Miami, leads the Canes (5-2) with six goals this season, including an overtime winner on a header against Jacksonville and a left-footed goal with 40 seconds left to beat Florida Atlantic 2-1.

“I’ve jokingly asked her if she can’t get it done earlier in the game,” said first-year Canes coach Mary-Frances Monroe, whose team lost its first two Atlantic Coast Conference games last weekend at No.15 Duke and at No. 7 Wake Forest. “She’s starting to give me gray hair.”

Flinn, a native of Romeo, Mich., always has been a successful athlete. At Romeo High, she played soccer, basketball track and volleyball.

And, as a senior, when the football team’s kicker opted to play soccer, Flinn stepped in and made field goals and extra points for the varsity football team even though she had never previously tried the sport.

Yet, for all her heroics — including 36 goals as a junior in soccer — Flinn got only two Division I scholarship offers, and both were from lower-level Central Michigan and Oakland.

Flinn eventually committed to Central Michigan and coach Tom Anagnost. But when Anagnost got the job at Miami in 2011, Flinn followed him and became a Cane.

The signing was an immediate success.

As a freshman, Flinn scored her first career college goal on a double-overtime header against Clemson.

Later that season, she scored what still stands as her biggest goal — a double-overtime, left-footed blast to beat Alabama in the NCAA tournament’s first round.

“I kicked it upper-90 to the right corner,” Flinn said of the goal she remembers fondly.

Her sophomore season produced more dramatics, including a right-footed goal to beat No. 1 Florida State 2-1 in the last minute of regulation. That win put Miami in the ACC playoffs.

Tara Schwitter, a senior defender who is playing for her third coach in her tenure at Miami, served up the cross that helped give Flinn her first career goal against Clemson.

Schwitter knows Flinn’s talents will be needed against an upcoming schedule that includes No. 1 North Carolina on Sept. 22; at No.4 Florida State Sept. 26; No. 8 Notre Dame on Oct. 6; No. 21 Maryland on Oct. 17; and at No. 2 Virginia Oct. 24.

Miami’s next game is at home Thursday against North Carolina State.

“Ashley’s speed and her height [5-9] are huge assets,” Schwitter said of Flinn, who has a 3.3 GPA and is majoring in sports administration. “She is one of the fastest girls on our team. She’s aggressive, and she doesn’t mind pressure. When the clock is winding down, she wants the ball on her feet.”

Of course, Schwitter is also the one who noticed Flinn’s passion for shut-eye.

“Ashley sleeps more than any person I’ve ever met,” Schwitter said. “All she talks about is how tired she is, and after she scores a big goal, we joke with her and say: ‘OK, you can sleep now.’ ”