Concord’s Ashley Durepo leading Merrimack College women’s lacrosse program into D-I

  • Ashley Durepo, a 2005 Concord High graduate, walks on the sidelines with the Merrimack College women's lacrosse team during a game against Saint Francis at Duane Stadium in Andover, Mass., on March 6. Durepo became the team's head coach before the start of this season as it makes the transition from Division II to D-I. Merrimack College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Ashley Durepo, a 2005 Concord High graduate, speaks with her Merrimack College women's lacrosse team during a game against Saint Francis at Duane Stadium in Andover, Mass., on March 6. Durepo became the team's head coach before the start of this season as it makes the transition from Division II to D-I. Merrimack College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Ashley Durepo Merrimack College Athletics—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 4/3/2021 2:00:16 PM

A junior season lost to injury can derail post-high school athletic options, and that was a concern for Ashley Durepo when she tore her ACL and missed out on the 2004 girls’ lacrosse season for Concord High. As it turned out, that injury opened Durepo’s eyes and opened the door to more post-high school lacrosse than she thought possible.

“I missed out on that traditional recruiting year, but I got to see the game from a different perspective working with coach (Terry) Anderson on the sidelines and talking through the plays and what was happening on the field,” Durepo said.

“I found I liked strategizing and planning for the other team, so I think coach Anderson gave me that passion right away and then (coach) Sandy (Bridgeman) at UNH sort of harnessed it. I got to work in her camps every summer and she would hand out practice plans to those who were interested. So I would say that Concord, UNH combination laid the ground work for me. And I just thought I liked coaching, I didn’t realized until a few years later what it would become.”

As of the 2021 spring season, it’s become a job as a Division I college coach. Durepo took over the Merrimack College program in February after three seasons as the head coach at the University of Southern Maine, a D-III program. Merrimack is making the jump from D-II to D-I this year. Durepo wasn’t hired until the last minute, and the team has started the season 1-7, but the players are excited about their new coach.

“We love her,” said Taylor Darrell, a Bow High graduate who is a senior midfielder at Merrimack. “She’s super enthusiastic. She has a great energy to be around. She has a lot of knowledge and she’s just super supportive. I don’t think we could have asked for anyone better.”

Durepo has similar feelings about her new team.

“The girls are doing a great job. I know if anyone looks at the record they might be like, ‘Oh, what’s going on here?’ but these girls have put in so much work in what’s been a crazy 12 months for them,” Durepo said. “They were all excited for last year (when they were scheduled to transition up to D-I) and their season got canceled, coaching change in the fall, I come in the day before the season starts saying things in a different way. But they have been incredible and patient and they’re excited.”

Durepo was a four-year starter during her playing days at UNH. She was a two-time All-America East Second Team selection, a three-time conference All-Academic Team member, and she helped the Wildcats to the 2008 NCAA Tournament as a junior.

She started coaching club teams while she was in college and continued doing that for years, an experience she said was vital to her coaching success. She also put in her time as an assistant coach at the University of Southern Maine (2010-11), UNH (2012) and UMass-Lowell (2013-16). She was part of the first two seasons of women’s lacrosse in Lowell, and thinks building that program from the ground up has a similar feel to transitioning Merrimack up to D-I.

“The feel of the departments is similar where it’s a really exciting time to be there,” Durepo said. “So each win feels like a win for everyone and we’re able to learn and grow from each other all the time. The athletic department is a fun place to be right now.”

After her time at UMass-Lowell, Durepo went back to USM to become the head coach. She inherited a team that had gone 7-9 in 2016, and two seasons later the Huskies had the best record in program history (10-6) and Durepo was named the 2019 Little East Coach of the Year.

Merrimack and former coach Julie Duffy parted ways in the fall of 2020, but the school didn’t hire Durepo until early February, and she wasn’t able to officially work with the team until Feb. 25, the day before their season-opener at UNH. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but Durepo was excited for the chance to coach at the D-I level and be closer to her family and friends in Concord. Plus, she was inheriting a good team, even if it’s still adjusting to a new level of play.

The Tomahawks left D-II in style, winning the 2019 NE-10 Conference tournament by beating LeMoyne, the No. 1-ranked team in D-II at the time, in the final 10-9, after beating then-No. 2 Adelphi in the quarterfinals. Given that kind of success, the Merrimack players expect to win at the next level, but they also understand the transition won’t be easy.

“I see us getting better each and every game,” said Darrell, who is third on the team in both goals (14) and points (16). “It’s a huge learning curve having a new coach and moving to D-I, but I think we’ve been competitive in most of these games and some of the scores don’t really show how competitive we are. I definitely think we’re getting better and it’s a huge growing year for us. I know for myself and a few other seniors, we’ve decided to come back for a fifth year (this year will not count against NCAA eligibility), so I’m excited for what’s to come.”




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