Hon takes best shot at dual goals St. Mary's goalie moves to striker


When Jerry Tobin lost his all-state goalkeeper before the season, the St. Mary's soccer coach never even whimpered.

No wonder, because, instead, he got a high-scoring striker.

Such was the transformation of junior Erin Hon, who, Tobin noted last month, was a goalie who "does it all." She displayed good moves and judgment, an ability to dive parallel to the ground and the leadership to direct the defense.

So, why did Hon open the season as a striker? One who accumulated six goals and an assist in St. Mary's first two games and was saluted as The Baltimore Sun's Female Metro Athlete of the Week?

Hon wanted a change. A goalie exclusively since she was in the eighth grade, and a part-time goalie for several years before that, she thought she had proved her point.

"After four years in the goal in the Olympic development program, Erin has the name and the reputation she needs as far as a college scholarship is concerned," Tobin said. "She has met all the people. Whether she plays in the field or not this year doesn't make any difference. She'll play in the field unless circumstances dictate otherwise."

They dictated otherwise in St. Mary's third game, a 5-0 loss to McDonogh. With Amanda Bourgeois out with bruised ribs suffered in a scrimmage against Hammond, Hon went back into the goal. She remained there for the first half, then returned to the field in an attempt to spur the offense after McDonogh had taken an early lead.

Because she attended so many camps over the years, Hon had tired of playing goal.

"I was kind of burned out," she said. "There's a lot of pressure at those camps, and I wanted to take a break from goalie."

Tobin said Hon was having a grand time at striker when practice began.

"Her parents felt she was burned out in the goal, too," Tobin said. "We didn't want her to get total burnout and quit soccer.

"She's one of the better field players around. She has a good finishing touch. A lot of people can dribble and run and trap. Very few can finish consistently, put the ball in the net."

Hon began playing soccer at 5, and at 7 was the only girl on a team of boys. They groaned about having a girl on their side.

"At least they did until they realized she could keep up with them and score goals," said her mother, Brenda. "Then they wanted her."

Erin then was an admitted tomboy, replete with short hair.

"I thought I was a boy in fourth and fifth grade," she said.

Erin played alongside her father, John, in an adult men's league. One time a man slide-tackled her, knocking her on her back and bruising her leg but not knocking her out of the game.

"She did so well," her mother said, "the men forgot she was a little girl."

For the first six years of her soccer life, Hon was primarily a striker. When she was 11, the Severna Park Scorpions needed a goalie one day and Hon volunteered. She continued to dabble at the position until eighth grade.

While she was still in grade school, her Severna Park club coach, John Olsen, made a decision that helped speed her development. She was so advanced that he recommended she play in an older age group.

"She has played up an age group ever since," her mother said. "She's been playing under-19 since she was 14. The challenge of playing against older girls has pushed her."

On her club team, the Severna Park Alliance, Hon, at 16, is still one of the younger players.

"She more than holds her own," Tobin said, "in and out of the net."

College scouts know that. Hon said she is leaning toward a North Carolina school because "I like that state and it has a lot of good soccer schools."

Eventually she will have to decide whether to attend a school in the process of starting women's soccer, like Wake Forest, or one where the program is established, such as North Carolina, North Carolina State, UNC-Wilmington or UNC-Greensboro.

She may even have to decide what she is, a striker or a goalie.

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