If she’s being honest, Henry A. Wise High School senior Christen Blair will tell you soccer isn’t her favorite sport.
Although she played soccer at Wise and was the Pumas’ leading scorer for three seasons, she prefers football.
“Soccer was the closest thing they had to football for girls,” Blair said. “I think the correlation is the physicality, the aggression and eagerness to score.”
Blair said she considers soccer players “harder” than football players, however, because they do everything without pads.
Her perspective is evident in the way she plays.
At 5-foot-3 she often is the smallest player on the field. But she also manages to be one of the strongest and grittiest.
Perhaps even more overlooked than her strength, Blair said, is her speed. Wise coach Jason Gordon said she nearly is untouchable once she takes off.
Blair’s mindset, that no one can prevent her from putting the ball in the back of the net, made her one of Prince George’s County’s most lethal strikers during the past four years.
Blair scored a team-high 13 goals in seven games last fall — her playing time was limited after aggravating a left ankle injury that sidelined her for all of 2010.
She is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 63 goals.
Tuesday she became the first female athlete in Wise’s six-year history to accept a NCAA Division I scholarship when she signed her letter of intent to play soccer at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.
“She is a dynamic goal scorer, always in attack mode,” Gordon said. “Her mindset is that she is going to break you down and she is a superb finisher. She will blow right past you with her speed. You cannot man mark her. She is the type of player you need to contain with two or three defenders.”
Gordon said he distinctly remembers the first time he saw Blair at tryouts four years ago. Her talent caught his attention. Though Blair thrives on the physical aspect of soccer, she said she relishes the sport’s strategic implications as well.
It’s important to play within herself, she said. The key to being an effective scorer is balancing aggression with her “soccer brains.”
“You have to stay plugged into the game at all times, when to move, what the proper shape is, what passing lanes to step in,” she said. “You can be soccer smart and never want to score or you could be aggressive and waste energy because you’re not playing smart. I like that you have to balance all those things.”