After a string of preseason exhibitions, Bangor girls’ soccer coach Joe Johnson knew he had a special player.

“Coming out of the preseason after playing a lot of the southern Maine teams, I told one of my assistants we had the best player in the state,” Johnson recalled.

That player is Ashley Robinson, a senior forward who scored a school-record 28 goals and had 19 assists to lead the unbeaten Rams to their first Class A state championship.

Robinson’s statistics are impressive but not the sole reason she was named the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year for girls’ soccer.

“She was our leading goal scorer but she also was a great senior leader,” said Libby Huber, a junior who plays in midfield for Bangor. “She always wants to make us try harder. She’s really talented but she doesn’t get in your face about it.”

Robinson’s work ethic and passion for soccer set a good example for the rest of the team.

“She works so hard,” Huber said. “She works before practice. She works during the off-season. If she’s not playing soccer, she’s working out, trying to stay in shape or working on her foot skills.

“She does a lot of work outside of practice to improve her skills.”

Robinson said she lives to play soccer.

“Soccer is basically my life,” she said. “I’ve been playing since I was about 5 or 6 years old.”

Robinson, who recently was accepted at Division II University of Southern New Hampshire, began soccer year-round in the fifth grade.

“Growing up I played other sports, but I realized I had a passion for soccer so I decided to focus on soccer and tried to improve from year to year,” she said.

While developing her individual skills, Robinson never lost sight of the fact that soccer is a team game.

“No doubt, her passion for the game and worth ethic is great,” Johnson said, “but it was never about her. It was always about the team.”

“She’d do anything for her team at the drop of a hat,” Huber said. “She’s the total package.”

“When she was on the field, you could see she was very unselfish and she really cared about her teammates,” Johnson added.

In 2010, after winning the second of their three Eastern Class A championships, the Rams were humbled by Scarborough in the state final, with the Red Storm rolling to a 3-0 victory.

Last summer, Robinson and teammates went to work.

“Right after school got out, we started practicing in the mornings three days a week,” Robinson said. “We wanted to make it back to that state game. We wanted to be the team picking up that Gold Ball. We had to play hard as a team in order to get back, and we did.”

Earlier this month, the Rams rolled to a 4-0 win over Scarborough to finally claim that Gold Ball.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH