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Jehnings, the Grizzlies' game changer

Posted: January 16, 2014 11:00 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2014 11:00 p.m.

Golden Valley senior Samantha Jehnings.

 

The Golden Valley girls soccer program’s list of achievements is a short one that probably begins with its 2-1 victory over the Valencia Vikings two years ago on Jan. 26, 2012 — its only win ever against a Foothill League opponent.

In that game, Grizzlies sophomore standout Samantha Jehnings introduced herself to the rest of the Foothill League by scoring both of Golden Valley’s goals.

“I still remember that match almost exactly,” says Jehnings, a University of San Francisco commit. “I don’t remember many matches, either, but I remember how that felt and knowing what that meant to everybody on the team.”

The midfielder/forward was voted to the All-Foothill League and Signal All-Santa Clarita Valley second teams that season, only to step away from the team before her junior year to improve her grades.

For Jehnings, club soccer commitments and an intense course load meant that something had to give.

“Club takes a lot of time, honestly. We only have two practices a week, but we also get together and lift weights and train at the gym,” Jehnings says. “Then on top of that you have school practices where you come home late. It’s tough.”

Jehnings says that knowing her friends were on the field without her was hard.

For Golden Valley, taking the field without Jehnings was a little bit harder — the team finished the 2012-13 season with a 4-13-4 overall record under first-year head coach Adam Yassaman.

Yet, through the first 12 games of the 2013-14 season, the Grizzlies leading scorer is Jehnings, who has scored 15 goals and logged five assists for an up-and-coming Golden Valley squad.

“What Sam’s play does, more than anything else, is it allows other girls to play their roles that they are more comfortable in,” says Yassaman. “Last year a lot of girls were asked to play above their heads, but when you have Sam up top, everybody looks better as a result.”

The chronology might not be linear, but this year it appears Golden Valley has a squad that Foothill League opponents should be wary of.

And despite all that’s happened or hasn’t for Golden Valley, the program’s lone scorer in the program’s lone league victory ever is the one leading the charge.

“I felt like it’s my senior year, I have all of my friends who I started with, it would be awesome to play again,” says Jehnings, who has had to adjust to three different coaches since joining the varsity squad as a freshman.

“I had heard about how good (Coach Yassaman) was but now that I play for him I can tell,” Jehnings says. “Having a new coach can be exciting, you know, just to see what direction they’ll take us.”

This season, Jehnings and Yassaman have Golden Valley moving forward.

The team is off to an 8-2-2 start, which means the Grizzles have already set the team record for wins in a season, besting the previous mark of six wins during 2011-12.

In total, Jehnings and her senior class have accounted for 22 of Golden Valley girls soccer’s 27 all-time wins.

Still, it’s that one win over Valencia back in January of 2012 that set the foundation for this year’s expectations, which “definitely begin with making playoffs,” according to Jehnings.

As long as Jehnings is healthy and competing, Valencia senior Eryn Spencer believes she can help Golden Valley live up to the increased expectations, too.

“She’s an amazing player,” says Spencer, who remembers the 2-1 result two years ago from another vantage point. “She is very talented and skilled and has a lot of heart. Her senior year meant a lot to her.”

Quietly, Jehnings has meant a ton to the Foothill League’s historically struggling soccer program.

Then again, the Grizzlies might be viewed in a different light after this season.

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