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Valencia trio wants to finish strong

Viking seniors Sammy Simon, Rebecca Harrison and Eryn Spencer capping off a long run together

Posted: January 11, 2014 9:48 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2014 9:48 p.m.

Valencia soccer players from left, Eryn Spencer, Sammy Simon and Rebecca Harrison show a photo of the themselves when they played third-grade club soccer together. The three seniors have played together since age 9.

 

For Valencia Vikings seniors Sammy Simon, Rebecca Harrison, and Eryn Spencer, the 2013-14 Foothill League girls soccer season was supposed to be their moment.

After playing youth soccer together since they were all 9 years old, the trio entered the Valencia program four years ago as part of “one of the most talented groups of freshmen” Vikings head coach Sean O’Connell said he’s ever had. A season ago, the three followed through on their potential in capturing a Foothill League title, ending a three-year reign of supremacy by Saugus in the process.

With a majority of players returning from last year’s league championship team, it appears that Valencia was destined for another special campaign in 2013-14.

For Simon, Harrison and Spencer — it could be an unforgettable final one.

Together.

“I found a picture of us three from third grade. It was twin day,” says Harrison, a 2013 Signal All-SCV first-team selection. “We’re all wearing shirts that just say soccer, soccer, soccer on them. It’s pretty funny.”

As the Foothill League season approaches, it’s still possible and perhaps likely that the group of friends (dubbed the Three Musketeers by teammates and coaches) will end their final leg of competitive soccer together with another league title.

But a few amendments will have to be made to the storybook ending.

Upon tearing her ACL during the club soccer season, Spencer was told she’d miss her senior year at Valencia.

On paper, it meant the loss of a dynamic athlete who scored six goals and added four assists in 2012-13.

Emotionally, it was a cruel misdirect.

“It was a really hard period for me,” says Spencer. “I was sad for sure. We cried and cried together, but we knew that we had to get through it and our team was going to be OK.”

So far, Spencer and her best friends have been absolutely correct.

The Vikings are out to a 10-1-1 start and are ranked tied for 10th in the CIF-Southern Section Division II poll.

For every goal its opponents score, Valencia has scored more than three.

“With our record you’d think we are healthy, but it’s been a struggle actually,” O’Connell says.

Spencer hasn’t been the only musketeer to sustain an injury this season, as Harrison has missed game time with an ankle injury but is due back in the Vikings lineup soon.

Sadly, Simon has been the trio’s lone healthy performer this year. At the very least, she’s off to a great start with four goals and three assists — both team bests.

“I’ve had to adjust to it. It’s obviously really nice having them out there with me,” says Simon. “But other players have stepped up, and even just being together as friends is OK.”

As it turns out, the trio might have the same amount of an impact as it expected to before the season began.

Harrison and Simon’s on-field leadership will play a role in determining whether or not a team that’s plagued with injuries and replete with junior varsity call-ups can continue to achieve at an elite level. Additionally, it gives the senior captains a chance to develop Valencia’s next crop of talent.

For Spencer, it’s about keeping things in perspective and offering support to her teammates.

“I don’t think it (the feeling) would be any different,” says Spencer of the possible joy brought about by another league title. “As a Viking, you are still a part of the team.”

Beyond this winter, Harrison and Spencer have NCAA Division I soccer careers to look forward to.

Despite her injury, Spencer is still set to attend Texas Christian University next fall, where she’ll join former teammate and last year’s All-SCV Player of the Year Taylor Venegas.

Harrison will lace up for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Simon hasn’t dismissed the possibility of playing college soccer, but she’s not using it as a factor in choosing which college she wants to attend.

Sure, it would have been a little sweeter if the three of them had one more chance to swashbuckle their way to victories on a soccer pitch.

But as civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

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