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Girls Oct 07, 2012

WAGS Tournament: Chrissie Holmes, faster than Usain Bolt?

By Roger Gonzalez

David Pettican knows all about WAGS.

At this weekend’s 37th Annual WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament, the English-born coach of the Under-16 Tredyffrin-Easttown YSA/FC Europa Storm (Pa.) was making his 10th trip.

“It’s wonderful,” Pettican said. “I’ve been coming here now for over a decade with all my teams. Every year it’s on our calendar.”

And after this weekend, many of the college coaches who attended are likely to have his star striker on their radar.

Pettican lit up when asked about his forward, one that has wowed scouts thus far. TEYSA FC Europa’s Chrissie Holmes is a player of enormous potential, one that Pettican expects to be a big-time contributor on the college level.

“Without putting them under pressure and trying to scare them, [I tell them] you are going to get the opportunity to show your skill set, so minimize your mistakes and maximize your potential,” said the coach, describing his message to his players over the weekend. “If you make a small mistake, don’t make it obvious, do something to counteract that and do something positive next time. Every player is going to make a mistake, it’s how you react to the mistake.”

Holmes has been solid, getting behind the defense with dangerous runs while also helping out in the midfield when needed and checking to the ball to help the flow of possession. There was no shortage of praise for his attacker, who has shown a great work rate, an understanding of the game and tremendous speed.

“She is probably faster than Usain Bolt in a flat-foot race,” said Pettican with a grin. “This is her fifth year [with FC Europa]. She is a converted defender…We put her on the front line purely because her athleticism is just wonderful. Her understanding of the game has gotten so much better.

“Her one-on-one play over the last 12 months has become epic. We won Disney[‘s Soccer Showcase] last year, went down there and won the tournament and Chrissie contributed a lot.”

The change of position wasn’t always easy for the 16-year old.

“At first, playing striker was kind of hard because I was playing defense,” Holmes said. “I got better and understood the game more as a striker. It just came easily to me.”

Now, with her recruiting set to start, she will be starting a two-year, pre-college plan in which she will provide a list of schools she wants to know more about and possibly attend. Hoping to stay in the Philadelphia area, she knows what she is looking for.

“To get a lot of playing time,” said Holmes, who is interested in Temple University, among others. “To be on a team that I can connect with, on and off the field, and just to have fun.”

She has the athleticism to be a top-notch collegiate player. This tournament has proved that.

“From an athletic standpoint, I would say absolutely,” Pettican said. “She is the best athlete on the field … But one of the things I found out over the last 10 years, college coaches are looking for certain positions and not certain players. For instance, if Temple are looking for a striker in a year and a half, they would be silly to not look at her.”

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