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Soccer to Snyder is all about love, enthusiasm

Wendy Snyder fancies herself as the adventurous type. She likes to try new things and lives life to the fullest.

Case in point: When Snyder was a sixth-grader, she read an announcement in the newspaper stating that the city needed more players in its soccer league. Snyder took that as a personal invitation.

"I decided to try it because I wanted to be able to work with other people and just the whole adventure itself," Snyder said. "I'm always up for new adventures, and once I got out there I just fell in love with it."

The love affair continues today. Snyder is having a stellar season as a defender/forward for the Citrus girls soccer team. Her love and enthusiasm for the game is one of the many reasons the Hurricanes are undefeated so far.

"You don't have to wake Wendy up for a game, she's coming out to play," Citrus coach Brady Bogart said. "Especially playing defense. She's been solid since I've been here (three years). She's actually gotten better in some phases of her game _ being on defense and clearing the ball with her left foot, that's basically getting better every year. If they get by her, it's pretty much one-on-one with Molly (Keating, keeper)."

Snyder and the Hurricanes will put their undefeated record on the line against some stiff competition this weekend when they participate in the Leesburg Holiday Tournament.

Citrus (8-0-2) will open play against Lake City Columbia today at noon. With a win, the Hurricanes would advance to the 4 p.m. game against the winner of the Orlando Edgewater-Titusville Astronaut game.

The tournament concludes Saturday with the championship game at 3 p.m.

Snyder, who will turn 18 on Jan. 6, will be in the starting lineup today at the sweeper position. But during her 12 years of playing the game, she has played every position on the field, including goalkeeper. So she's well-qualified to analyze each position. The hardest position on the field?

"That would be a toss-up between midfielder and goalie," Snyder said. "Midfielder is a lot of running, a whole lot of stop and go, stop and go. At keeper, if you're against a not-so-great team, it's very boring. But if you're against a good one and you let one go in, you feel responsible, like you could have done better. You put yourself down a lot."

Snyder has been a defender most of her high school career, but is playing dual roles this season.

"At sweeper, there's a lot of containing and a lot of judgment on when to attack," Snyder said. "Up front at forward, you just go for the ball and get it in the net. Defense is control and mainly get rid of it as fast as you can."

Bogart said Snyder has exhibited some outstanding play at sweeper.

"She's been doing an excellent job at sweeper," Bogart said. "And she played up front against Hernando (Nov. 30) and the first 5 minutes she scored. At sweeper she's saved a bunch of goals on breakaways. She's very, very aggressive and very determined not to let the other team score.

"She's one of those unsung heroes that won't get too many stats, but will get shutouts with the rest of the defense."

Snyder is in her fourth season playing soccer for the Hurricanes. Just which position she likes most depends on the tempo of the game.

"I enjoy defense a lot, but then towards the end of a game if it starts to get a little pushy I want to get right up there and get in the middle of the action," Snyder said. "If it's a slow game, I want up front just to be in the action because it gets boring back on defense. Most of the time I don't get up there. If Coach feels he wants me up there he'll put me up there, but if he feels he needs to stay back, I do."

If you see Snyder before a Citrus game and she looks excited, that's probably because she is. And while this is her last high school season, in her heart she said every game feels like one of her first.

"I still get nervous before every game," she said. "Why? Because every day is kind of like a new experience. You don't know what you're going to come to. Every year teams get better and worse, so it's like playing a brand new game. You never know what's ahead. The people you beat 20-0 last year can come up and be a tough game or you end up tying 0-0.

"But we're having lots of fun. Anytime you win, you have fun."