Chris Andre makes plays that need to be seen twice to be truly appreciated.
The perfectly angled header in traffic.
The bending pass around two defenders.
His ridiculous backwards bicycle kick goal against Western Washington earlier this season. That goal has the Montana State Billings soccer coaches showing the video to anyone who passes by their office.
“I’ve watched it five times,” said Yellowjacket head coach Dan McNally.
Andre just makes things happen on the pitch.
All of them good.
Long, lean and equally skilled with either foot, Andre seamlessly has played all the attacking positions for the Yellowjackets. He has played forward, outside midfield and center midfield in his four seasons at MSUB.
“I’ve always done what it takes for the team to win,” said Andre, who will play his last game for the Yellowjackets Saturday against Northwest Nazarene.
A victory would give Andre’s class four consecutive winning seasons, the first for the program.
“Chris shows that players from Montana can have successful soccer careers at the NCAA Division II level,” McNally said. “He is a role model for players from Billings. Chris shows what hard work can bring you.”
The Billings Senior graduate is MSUB’s all-time leader for assists and needs one more to be the same for the GNAC. The business administration major has also earned academic honors for both the GNAC and the region.
When All-American forward Sam Charles was setting program and Great Northwest Athletic Conference records for scoring, most of the plays started with Andre.
“I really don’t know what it was,” Andre said of his on-field synchronicity with Charles. “Sam was good at being in the right place at the right time and could finish well.”
This season, at McNally’s urging, Andre has stepped out of Charles’ long shadow and become a top-flight scorer in his own right. Andre has a team-high nine goals for the Yellowjackets this season, including a penalty kick score against Rocky Mountain College earlier this week. He is four for four in one-on-one showdowns against opposing goal keepers.
“Where ever the goal keeper isn’t,” Andre said with a small smile of his favorite place to put the ball.
Andre also ranks among the top 10 goal scorers at MSUB and top three for total points (goals and assists). He also leads the team in assists this season.
“I like them both,’’ he said of creating and scoring goals. “My strength is that I’ve always been a pretty hard worker.”
When not at practice or games, Andre could often be found alone working on his skills. “I do a lot of foot work drills, juggling the ball, working on different moves. It’s a lot of fun,’’ he explained. “Growing up in Montana, your season is limited because of the weather. I worked on things by myself a lot.”
He’s also spent the past couple of summers playing in the Premier Development League for teams in Rochester, Minn., and Salem, Ore.
“That helped me a lot,’’ said Andre. “It was a chance to get some different coaching and play with some of the top collegiate players from around the country. It was like another college season. It raised my game quite a bit.’’
But piling up numbers was never Andre’s motivation.
“I’m more on the team getting the result,’’ he said. “I’ve never really put emphasis on stats. It actually all snuck up on me.
“My dad (John) has kept track and told me,’’ Andre finished with another grin. “My mom (Vicki) and dad have always been very supportive during my career. This year, they’ve been at every home and away game.”
They were able to witness one of the most amazing goals McNally has ever seen by a Yellowjacket player.
After a long throw in from teammate Thomas Sheets, teammate Kyle Moriarty headed the ball up to the top of the box, according to Andre.
“I had my back to the goal and did a bicycle kick. It’s the first one I’ve ever scored,” he said. “It was awesome. Everyone went nuts. I just really wanted to win the game.”
The meticulous Andre, “I always put my shoes and socks on the same way and my socks must have a crease. I’m pretty particular about certain things,’’ he said, hopes Saturday is not his final soccer game.
“I would love to play at the next level,’’ he said. “Playing here was the right decision for me. “I had a lot of close friends from Senior going to school here and got to stay with them. This has been a really good experience.”