Athlete of the Week: Lake’s Wood is good at reaching her goals

Lake Forest High senior Elle Wood (25) was a first-team All-Henlopen South pick last spring when she netted 19 goals. Delaware State News file photo

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school sports world on hold, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Lake Forest High’s Elle Wood won our readers’ poll for girls’ soccer.)

HARRINGTON — Being your team’s top scoring threat may sound like a lot of fun.

But Elle Wood also feels a sense of responsibility that comes with the position.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to let the team down if I don’t score, because that’s one of my jobs as a forward,” said the Lake Forest High senior. “I just want to make sure that if they’re working hard defending and getting the ball up the field that I can finish.”

Wood did a pretty good job of getting the ball in the net last spring, tallying 19 goals as the Spartans went 8-7 in girls’ soccer.
A first-team All-Henlopen Southern Division pick last season, Wood was looking forward to finishing her soccer career alongside some long-time friends. That was a before the coronavirus pandemic closed schools, though.

First-year Spartans’ coach Andy West was looking forward to seeing Wood net some more goals this spring, too. He said she has a real knack for getting the ball in the back of the net.

A year ago, Wood often played up top by herself in Lake’s offense.

“The thing about her as a goal scorer is that, whenever there’s an opportunity, she takes the shot,” said West, who had been the coach at Lake’s Chipman Middle School for several years. “A lot of times, players tend to pass off often.

“She’s not a ball hog. But, if the ball goes anywhere in or around the goal area — and she can find an opportunity to shoot — she’s going to. And she shoots with a lot of power so the ball finds its way into the back of the net more often with players like that. That’s one of the things that I admire about her.”

The tough thing about missing this soccer season for Wood is that she already knew it was going to be her last one in the sport. The Harrington resident is headed to Salisbury University where she’s going to play field hockey for the NCAA Division III power.

But the 18-year-old Wood has also been playing soccer since she was only three. She started in the Harrington Parks & Recreation youth program.

Wood has been playing soccer with fellow Lake Forest seniors Maci Carter, Kayla Guthrie, August Lewis and Alexa McCracken since they were about six. That group was also together as freshman on the Spartans’ varsity, which made the DIAA state tournament that season.

“Field hockey is a sport I take seriously all year,” said Wood. “So it’s fun just to play another sport in a season, too. It’s the last time I’m going to play soccer competitively like that.

From left, Kayla Guthrie, Alexa McCracken, August Lewis and Elle Wood along with Maci Carter (not pictured) are the seniors on Lake Forest’s girls’ soccer team this spring. Delaware State News/Andy West

“It’s really upsetting that we may not get to go back. But I also know there’s a whole group of people that feel the same way. We’re all just getting through it together — just keeping our hopes up, hoping that maybe we’ll get to play together at some point.”

All things considered, Wood was having a pretty senior year before the pandemic.

Lake went 12-4-1 and reached the DIAA Division II state semifinals in field hockey. Wood also plays girls’ basketball, where the Spartans finished 16-6 and made it to the DIAA state tourney second round.

Off the field and court, Wood is also successful. A National Honor Society member, she’s been both a DIAA and Henlopen Conference academic honoree.

“My academics definitely come first,” said Wood.

“She just works hard at everything,” said West. “I think that’s the big difference — her work ethic.

“She’s not a ‘rah-rah’ leader. But if you want somebody to set an example, she is the one that’s going to be among those.”

The only thing that would have made the year better was topping it off with a big soccer season. After losing just a pair of seniors from last year’s squad, the Spartans were poised to build off last year’s 8-7 campaign.

Lake Forest won five of its last seven games a year ago to finish with a winning record.

Still, Wood was proud of everything the Spartans did accomplish during the school year.

“It just shows how far we’ve come over the years,” she said. “We’ve all been playing together pretty much since middle school. It was just good to see our connection stayed throughout high school.”

(Note: Andy West is the executive editor of the Delaware State News.)