On the surface, she might not be the star of the ASU soccer team.
She hasn’t garnered many headlines thus far, but quietly, senior attacking midfielder Holland Crook has blossomed into one of ASU’s most improved and vital players.
Most observers would probably say senior forward Devin Marshall and sophomore forward Cali Farquharson are the undisputed stars of the team, and deservedly so, as Farquharson is on a ridiculous tear with nine goals in eight games and Marshall’s not too far away with five.
However, Crook’s role on the team holds just as important as either Farquharson or Marshall. The senior from Federal Way, Wash., is the daughter of Bill Crook, who played professional soccer for 18 years.
In her fourth year, Crook has never been involved in the ASU offense as much as she is now. Crook takes basically every set piece for ASU, including corner kicks, free kicks and penalty kicks, with conviction.
Coach Kevin Boyd said he thinks Crook has contributed, but that she needs to find more goals in the flow of play.
“She’s been great,” ASU coach Kevin Boyd said. “I’ve said it all year that I thought she was going to have a good year. … She is health-wise getting better and better and fitness-wise getting better and better. Both of those are going to allow her to play longer and a more impactful way.”
For Crook, it’s better to give than to receive.
Crook has done a lot of giving – she leads the team with a career-high six assists in 2013 – but has just one goal offensively.
“She’s primarily had them in the flow of play in the spring time, but not as much in the fall,” Boyd said. “She’s become a bit of a specialist when it comes to set pieces for us, but yeah, she’s trying to get a few more (goals) in the run. But at the same time she’s getting a lot of assists. I’ll take that any day.”
In her career, Crook’s scoring efficiency is just four goals on 130 shots. That statistic is even more drastic taking away her three career goals on penalty kicks, making her 1-for-127 on non-penalty kick shots.
Still, her offensive presence is felt in other ways, in particular with deadly penalty kicks and pinpoint passes to set up her teammates.
On a team with ultra-talented forwards, it speaks volumes that it’s Crook who handles the penalty kicks.
“PK’s are different. It’s a different mindset really,” Boyd said. “It is about the ability to disguise and to accurately hit a hard ball where you want. Holland does that very well. … I think you need someone who’s got confidence in being able to score in that moment and then someone who’s not only got that confidence but is calm enough under pressure.”
Her connection with Marshall, another senior, seems to be materializing as well. They’ve played together for four years and have devolved quite a rapport with one another.
“We’ve been playing together for a couple years now. This is year four, so I’m happy to see that we’re able to connect like that more often,” Crook said.
In one weekend alone, Crook racked up three assists all to Marshall. In particular, Crook likes to cross it into the 5-foot-9 Marshall, who is one of the better finishers in the air.
“Anytime Holland gets the ball out wide, I’m always looking for her to cross the ball in, because she can play those really good balls in,” Marshall said.
Crook also likes sophomore forward Sara Tosti and has assisted on her two goals.
“They’re opening some stuff up, which is making it nice (and) getting me some assists,” Crook said. “It’s cool to have six (assists) so far, and I hope to continue moving forward. We still have quite a bit of season left.”
Reach the reporter at Justin.Janssen@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11