Ashleigh Sykes is retiring from professional soccer and will not join the Thorns for the 2018 NWSL season, per an announcement from her Australian club Canberra United.
THANKS, ASH |— Canberra United (@CanberraUnited) February 15, 2018
Canberra United can today announce that decorated forward @ashsykes91 will retire from Professional football after 10 @WLeague seasons.
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The 26-year-old has played in every one of the 10 years of the W-League’s existence, coming on as a substitute in the very first Grand Final as a 16 year old. She won two championships and three premierships (awarded for finishing top of the league in the regular season) in her time at Canberra.
Sykes joined Portland partway through last season, making 17 appearances for the club at right wingback, and scoring one goal. Coming off the back of a season where she won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals in the W-League (and winning the Julie Dolan medal for being the best player in the W-League the year before), many expected her to play up top for Portland, but she arrived just after Hayley Raso’s emergence as a key attacking piece and had to settle for being a rotation option in defense instead. Her most recent season in Canberra saw her helping to guide a very young team (including new Thorn Ellie Carpenter) to a fifth-place finish in the league, just outside the playoff spots.
She will continue in soccer as the Manager of Game Development for Capital Football in Canberra.
Sykes gave a statement of thanks to the Thorns and to Portland:
First, I want to say a massive thank you to Merritt Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson and Mark Parsons for giving me the opportunity to come and play for the Portland Thorns. It was always a goal of mine to test myself in the NWSL, and to play for one of the biggest women’s clubs in the world was an amazing experience, one that exceeded all my expectations. To come away with a championship and to get to play in front of Portland’s incredible fans is something I still struggle to describe.
I’m looking forward to moving on to the next stage of life, sharing my love of the game through working in football and cheering my teams on from the stands. Thanks for the wonderful experience and look after my other Aussies!!