Senior Spotlight: Lacrosse only part of Irwin’s starring role at Canon-McMillan

Sunday, May 3, 2020 | 12:37 PM

Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

When spring began, Ashley Irwin was preparing for starring roles in the school musical and as a scoring middie/attack on the Canon-McMillan girls lacrosse team.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic struck and Irwin went from being a super busy senior to homebound soon-to-be graduate missing being on the field and stage.

She still found a way to find the positives in being able to participate in both activities, even in a limited capacity.

“It was hard to juggle those both, but I made the most of it,” she said. “I wouldn’t take back a moment of either of those time-consuming sports/musicals.”

Irwin, who celebrated her 18th birthday Friday, will continue her lacrosse career at IUP next fall. She scored 62 goals last season, including five in an 18-8 loss to North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAA first round. It was the first playoff game in Big Macs history.

She was named all-section and All-WPIAL and finished her covid-19-shortened high school career with more than 100 goals.

How have you been keeping busy during the coronavirus pandemic?

Pretty much every day, I’ve been getting up early, starting my homework or I’ll work out. I try to get a workout in every single day. And doing things like cleaning up my room or around the house. Just enjoying the time with my family because, obviously, I’ll be going to college, if we go in the fall. It’s nice to spend a little time with them.

Have you been doing any lacrosse activities?

I’ve been doing a lot of wall ball and playing catch with my dad and friends around the neighborhood. Some girls on my team live in my neighborhood so it’s been nice to just pass with them for the last time.

If there was a lacrosse season, what were you hoping to accomplish personally and as a team?

Personally, last year I got all-WPIAL and all-section. This year, I was really rooting for getting All-American because that’s my all-time dream. As a team, we’ve been playing with each other since we were really little. I think it was important for us to get to the playoffs and go further than one round. I think it was really important for us to win the games we lost last year and (show) improvements were made.

How did it feel to qualify for the playoffs for the first time last season?

It was very exhilarating. It was very important because we worked since our freshman year and all of us (eight seniors) have been playing together forever, and it was important we got to the playoffs and got to see how we improved so much that we got to play and be a part of that. It was exciting we got to experience that for the first time and also the last.

How much practice time did you have before the shutdown?

It was two to three weeks. Our first scrimmage was the day they shut everything down.

Why did you decide on IUP?

The place was close to home and the team was just like family whenever I walked on campus. I had a lot of different college campus tours, but when I walked on the IUP campus, it felt like home. I was loved by everyone there and felt like I could be part of something and make myself better and improve with those types of people playing on the team.

What do you plan to study?

Elementary education as a major and as a minor I’m doing special education.

What do you like most about lacrosse?

I like the feeling of being on a team and having those people be on my side when I need them and always having forever friends.

What are some of the other activities you were involved with at Canon-McMillan?

I was a three-year member of musicals in our high school. This year I was the lead role in “Children of Eden.” I was really excited but then tech week came up when we were going to have the musical, and we got closed down. That was kind of upsetting, but it was really fun to be part of something like that.

What was your reaction like when you found out you wouldn’t be returning to school this spring?

I was kind of devastated because along with loving the things I do at school and my extracurricular activities, I loved each and every one of my teachers I had throughout my four years of high school. Not being able to see them in class and me being a visual learner, like being taught by hand to hand by the teacher, it was kind of difficult.

What have you missed most during this quarantine period?

Lacrosse. Just being on the field with my teammates and coaches and being pushed to limits that I never thought I’d be able to be pushed. I loved the thought of being on the field and playing an actual game. I never knew my last game would be the playoff game. It was disappointing.

What has been your favorite show to binge watch?

“All-American.” It’s a football show.

If you could have dinner with any three celebrities, who would they be?

(Lacrosse player) Taylor Cummings because I’d want to work out with her. She’s awesome and very athletic. Probably Cher because I liker her songs. And Ariana Grande because I love her style.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To not take any moment for granted and play every game like it’s your last and sing every concert like it’s your last. Just push myself to the fullest limit I can go.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.


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