PHCC’s Christine Harris returns to the field with a vengeance

October 8, 2015

By CARA COOPER Bulletin Sports Writer

Patrick Henry Community College women’s soccer freshman Christine Harris came into the season thinking it might be a struggle. Even though she was a four-year varsity starter at her high school in Northern California, and had played soccer all through childhood, she graduated from high school 10 years ago and had only sporadically played on organized teams while in the Army in the years since.

But Harris has defied even her own expectations.

The freshman forward has scored 10 goals and has 12 assists on the year, accounting for exactly two-thirds of the team’s scoring output this season.

“It is kind of a little overwhelming, the fact that I’ve impacted the team that much,” Harris said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all but I’m very excited that I was able to help the team out.”

Harris approached Patriots head coach Larry Wylie during the summer about joining the team. She was attending Danville Community College, but decided to transfer to Patrick Henry when she realized they had a soccer program.

Prior to returning to school, Harris was in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Lee in Prince George County. Harris and her husband returned to his hometown of Chatham last year, and are both going to school on the G.I. bill.

Even though she had some soccer scholarship offers when she graduated high school in 2005, Harris chose the Army instead, and played on some teams on the bases. She said it was watching the game on TV that gave her the itch to get back into it.

“Actually watching the World Cup I was noticing a lot of the women were in their 20s and that it’s never too late,” Harris said. “I’ve played soccer my entire life up until joining the military… but it just made me think ‘why not go back and play?’ I’m getting older and this opportunity isn’t going to be there forever so I figured why not give it a shot and try to play again.”

The prospect of playing against players just out of high school, some born in the late ‘90s, was a little intimidating, Harris admits. It wasn’t the conditioning, since she had stayed in shape through her time in the Army, but actually being able to get touches on the ball and getting used to the speed of play.

Patriots head coach Larry Wylie said that was something that also concerned him.

“I will be very honest and say that I am shocked that her touch on the ball has remained as well as it has. Being out of play at the higher levels you tend to lose that type of compact touch but she’s still got a very good touch so I am impressed with that,” Wylie said. “She’s been continuously playing so I wasn’t that shocked that she could make an impact like she has.”

Not only has Harris made an impact on the team, but other schools are also starting to take notice. Wylie said that early in the season she was able to easily beat single defenders, but now that teams know about her speed and skills, they’re starting to double and even triple cover her.

“She’s caused some problems for teams through the midfield dropping back and helping back defensively,” Wylie said. “You’re really not going to defend her with one person. It’s normally the second or third person that gets her. She can usually make the first person miss or get around the first person whether it’s with a good pass or a one-off or just beating them around one-on-one.”

Wylie said he loves having Harris on the team, and she’s made an impact with her teammates both on and off the field. It’s that team aspect of the game that Harris said she missed the most.

“Just getting to play in actual games again. In organized games and meeting just a lot of really cool, down to earth people and just the camaraderie of a team again and traveling on a bus and just the excitement playing in games and the adrenaline rushing feeling of scoring. It’s altogether just pretty awesome,” Harris said.

Harris hopes that after her two years as a Patriot she could continue her playing career at a bigger program. For now, she’s going to continue to be a threat for Patrick Henry.

“She brings an energy to the team with her. I feel that everybody around her feels we have an opportunity to score,” Wylie said “Once she started giving the ball up we just started really rolling. She’d give it up and get it back and score or she’d draw defenders and lay it off. She’s trusting her teammates and they’re putting the ball in the back of the net. It’s been great to have her on the team.”

Filed under: Women's Soccer