Soldotna's Wolfe helps Stars keep it together

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Soldotna High School girls soccer team has been dominant in the midfield this season, with attack after attack generated off nice one- and two-touch passes that split opposing defenses and open up shots on goal.

Part of the magic comes from the fact that Soldotna's scheme is comprised of several layers, from the playmakers up front to the stalwarts on defense across the back.

Right in the middle of it all is senior Erin Wolfe, holding things together on defense and setting things up on offense.

"She hustles back to help on defense and forward to help on offense," said Soldotna coach Katie Tongue. "She's really team-oriented. She's always filling in where someone needs help. I've never had to ask her to go hard."

Indeed, despite her wispy appearance, Wolfe has earned a reputation as one of the toughest players on the field.

"I remember her freshman and sophomore years, when she was plagued by ankle problems," Tongue said. "You'd have to drag her off the field. She'd play through just about anything. She's very tough, very hard-nosed, very determined."

Perhaps Wolfe's spunk comes from her varied athletic background in addition to soccer, she also played basketball at Soldotna. Before moving from Oklahoma to Bethel in junior high, Wolfe often played on boys teams.

"I lived in Oklahoma until seventh grade, and I played by myself on a bunch of boys traveling teams," Wolfe said of her soccer experience. "It was a little bit different. We didn't have soccer in schools.

"I started playing in third grade, I played fall and spring, so I got a lot of soccer in."

Wolfe said her older brother, Eli, encouraged her athletic bent.

"He was the sporty one in high school, and he pushed me to be the athletic girl in town," Wolfe said. "I was the only girl on the soccer team and on the baseball team. I even played football in fifth grade he was a football guy."

Wolfe will continue to follow in Eli's footsteps, as well as those of her father, John, when she heads back to Oklahoma next fall for college at the University of Oklahoma.

She said she's always wanted to be veterinarian, but also wants to study foreign languages, maybe even spend some time studying in Italy.

In addition to sports, Wolfe said she enjoys reading, listening to music and spending time with her dog, Harley.

Wolfe said that until this year, she had a fear of public speaking which prevented her from running for student government.

"I kind of regret that. I probably would have enjoyed things like that," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said she enjoys hiking, but could pass when it comes to the hunting and fishing that lured her dad to bring the family Erin, her mother Kimber, Eli and oldest brother Ben to Alaska in the first place.

Wolfe said her family's move to Bethel was an eye-opening experience.

"It was quite a change a culture shock," Wolfe said. "Going from a little farm town to being a minority in an Alaska town, it was a big change.

"I grew up a lot in Bethel. It's not a place where you can be young for very long. You've got to adapt to things quickly."

Wolfe arrived in Soldotna for her freshman year of high school and was able to crack the varsity basketball roster.

Wolfe said she started playing organized basketball in elementary school, but her game started way before that.

"I've been playing basketball since I could pick up a ball," Wolfe said. "I've played competitively since fifth grade, but with my brothers and my dad, we've played horse or one-on-one since I can remember."

Wolfe said her role with the Stars basketball team that finished third at the state basketball tournament this past season was a defensive one.

"I like to think I was more of a defensive person that was what I was there for," Wolfe said. "That's what I prided myself on. I don't think I played too much of a role in the offense. I was just someone to pass it to if someone was in trouble."

Wolfe said the basketball season made for some great memories, from the holiday break trip to San Diego to the trip to the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage for the state tournament.

"It was the first time I'd ever been in the Sullivan Arena," Wolfe said. "It was kind of overwhelming, but kind of cool."

Wolfe said she felt that, with all the talent, experience and senior leadership, the Stars could have pulled out a state title.

She said she the soccer team has similar goals.

"Isn't that the main goal?" Wolfe said of advancing to the state tournament. "We still have that bitter taste from last year when we didn't get to go to regions."

Wolfe said her role on the soccer team is similar to what she did with the basketball team.

"I play middle halfback, but I'm defensive," Wolfe said. "Jennifer (Senette) is up front she's got the skills in the offense. I just run around and try to get the ball to Jennifer."

According to Wolfe, she and Senette have a pretty good connection when it comes to sports, something that has helped the Stars weave together all those layers out on the field this season.

"We think the same way, and when we don't we yell at each other," Wolfe said. "We'll do what the other says, and usually, it works out fine.

"But it's not just about us. Jennifer is a playmaker, but we have a lot of other players that contribute. It's definitely a team sport."



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