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Wolfe has perfect timing

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003

NEW PORT RICHEY -- There are crowd-stoppers, show-stoppers and heart-stoppers.

Tanner Wolfe's shining moment was a clock-stopper.

By rule, scoreboard clocks at high school soccer games are supposed to freeze with two minutes remaining because the actual clock is kept on the field by officials.

But on Feb.13, the clock kept ticking down the apparent end to Ridgewood's season until, with 1:22 showing in the region quarterfinal, Wolfe hammered home his second goal of the night to keep the Rams alive.

Moments later, teammate Jose Anazco drew a foul deep in Lake Region territory and converted his penalty kick, giving Ridgewood its first playoff win in 17 years.

Wolfe's game-tying, clock-stopping score was one of 26 for the junior this season, a mark that led the Rams and put him second in the county, trailing only Gulf's Novica Maric. He had another in the Rams' upset of top seed Springstead in the district championship, and both goals in Ridgewood's 2-1 win against second seed Central in the district semifinals, which clinched the Rams' first playoff berth since 1992.

On a team that had plenty of talented seniors -- scorers Jose Anazco, Chris Gasparini and Adam Memoli and goalkeeper Julio Anazco -- the Rams found a leader in Wolfe. Coach Ed McComiskey said he has relied on juniors as much if not more than seniors in the past.

"I always look to juniors, because seniors can be a weird group," McComiskey said. "It's almost like, 'I've done everything, so now it's fun for me, riding the wave of my past.' Sometimes, they don't step up like they should, so I don't necessarily rely on seniors to carry the load for leadership."

What helped Wolfe separate himself from the rest of the county, according to his coach, was a greater maturity and an enthusiasm that spilled over from the team's most experienced players to the younger ones.

"He has a tremendous passion for the game," McComiskey said. "He's always had the skill and the abilities, but this year, he brought his passion with him and it made a difference."

The challenge now for Wolfe is repeating this season's success. He'll be back next winter, flanked by close friends Dimos Kalathakis and transfer Richard Jata, trying to lead the Rams back to the playoffs.

Pasco County had no shortage of prolific scorers and talented playmakers in 2002-03.

Maric scored 30 goals and the county's coaches gave the Sunshine Athletic Conference player of the year award to Gulf's Drew Roberts, who fought off injuries to guide the Buccaneers with 22 goals and 22 assists. That put him in the county's top three in both categories.

But Gulf's season ended in the district semifinals with a shutout loss to Hudson and Ridgewood's came to life in the postseason.

"The whole season is based around districts," said Wolfe, who had five goals in the biggest three-game span of the Rams' season.

The one he will remember the most came with 1:22 left on the clock.

"That was the best feeling of the season," Wolfe said. "It gave us one last chance, and the timing and everything, it was beautiful."

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