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'Eaters' 'secret' weapon

Women's Soccer

Senior defensive midfielder Christopher does the dirty work for UCI and her uniform has stains to prove it.

October 13, 2011|By Barry Faulkner
(Daily Pilot File…)

Judy Christopher's excellence on the field speaks for itself, though usually in gruff, muffled tones that those who are not soccer aficionados need to listen very intently to hear.

And while the UC Irvine senior is used to making headlines more with postseason honors than eye-catching statistics, she long ago learned to embrace the low profile that swallows up even the most conspicuous defensive midfielders.

"You basically do the dirty work," said Christopher, whose penchant for getting down and dirty can clearly be seen on her all-white home uniform.

She may, in fact, lead the nation in grass stains.

"I obviously slide tackle a lot," said the two-time first-team All-Big West Conference performer who added second-team All-West Region honors while helping lead the Anteaters to the program's first Big West title and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010. "I always like to get that first tackle in early, just to be like 'This is how it's going to be all game and [the opposing attacker] is not going to have fun.'"

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Christopher has the most fun when she's making opponents miserable, a feat she manages to accomplish almost without fail. She does this despite battling smaller, more athletic attackers who would easily beat Christopher in a foot race longer than five yards.

"Judy is not dynamically quick, but she covers more ground during a game than most players," said UCI Coach Scott Juniper, who may be Christopher's most enthusiastic fan. "All of the teams we play against, we pick out their leading producer of assists and that is pretty much the player we assign Judy to mark. Last season, those players had a total of zero goals and zero assists. That [contribution] is not recognized in the traditional statistics, but in that role, I have not seen a better player across the country than Judy."

Clearly what Christopher lacks in explosive bursts, she makes up for in determined devotion to her defensive duties.

"She's ruthless in a tackle and her work rate is exceptional," Juniper said of Christopher, who has four assists this season to help UCI build a 9-2-3 record, (2-1-1 in conference), heading into Friday's 7 p.m. Big West clash at Cal State Fullerton. The 'Eaters play host to conference-leading and No. 22-ranked Long Beach State on Sunday at 6 p.m.

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