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Valencia boys soccer: Stuck in the middle

Though Valencia’s midfielders don’t get much glory, they’re vitally important

Posted: February 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Valencia soccer players, from left, junior Colton Morgan, senior Jake Ferry and junior Lukas Scalercio provide stability for Valencia in the midfield.

 

It’s a simple question with no simple answer.

What does make this year’s Valencia Vikings boys soccer team so much better than the ones before?

After a long, thoughtful pause, junior midfielder Colton Morgan finally offers his response.

“I don’t know,” he says. “The way that we play together, the way that everybody does what they’re supposed to do, that’s what leads to our success.”

It’s a fair explanation, but probably an incomplete one.

Sure, the Vikings play well as a group, but that’s only part of it. That still doesn’t tell the whole story of how Valencia won its first Foothill League title in school history this season and how it won a first-round game in the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs on Friday, beating Chino 2-0.

A good soccer team has a lot of moving parts, and those parts all have to be moving in the right direction at the right time.

At the center of it all are three under-the-radar midfielders, Morgan, Lukas Scalercio and Jake Ferry.

Together, those three have made Valencia what it is this year.

“These three guys do things that a normal spectator watching the game will never see,” says Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio, who earned his first playoff win in eight years coaching the Valencia boys. “And that’s critical. They don’t get praised for doing the things they do because it’s the dirty work of the game.”

So yes, the Vikings work well as a team, but it’s these three players making sure that happens.

All season long, all three players have participated in just about every minute of every game in the most physically and mentally demanding position on the field.

In soccer, the forwards mostly stay on the offensive half of the field, defenders and goalkeepers stay back on the other side.

Midfielders have to be everywhere.

“We’re not scoring the goals, we’re not the ones saving goal,” says Ferry, a senior and third-year varsity player. “We’re not the last line of defense or anything like that. We’re just going back and forth working hard.”

It’s no accident that this group of very different, but very compatible personalities ended up as the heart and soul of this team.

They’ve all known each other since the days of attending Placerita Junior High together. Ferry was in eighth grade at the time and the other two were a grade behind.

“It makes the team a lot better just because we’ve known each other for so long,” says Lukas Scalercio, a second-year varsity junior.

He laughs when talking about his teammates and their personalities.

Ferry is the loud, aggressive, in-your-face type who typically plays on the right side.

“He’s very aggressive and he just works his heart out,” Lukas Scalercio says with a chuckle.

Then there’s Morgan, the center mid who is a more quiet and cerebral player. But he’s also highly skilled.

“I put him in there. He does his job. He doesn’t ask for anything and all I ask for is more,” says Coach Scalercio.

The younger Scalercio lets his actions speak on the field. He’s the fastest of the three and he wears his passion for winning on his sleeve.

“He goes on the field, he gets pumped up,” Morgan says of Lukas Scalercio, a left-side midfielder. “He gets ready to win. His speed helps us in the game. He gets up and down the line.”

Though midfielders are given the task of feeding the balls to forwards to create scoring opportunities, Valencia’s group is more defensive oriented.

These three are instructed to focus more on defending at all times, and all three do it extremely well.

In 10 league games this season, the Vikings finished with an undefeated 7-0-3 record and they allowed five total goals along the way. They also recorded seven shutouts in those games.

The unique style of play allows Valencia to hold onto leads with remarkable consistency.

“We’re all basically the same in our defensive-minded soccer playing skills,” Ferry said. “None of us stand out in our lone skills on the field, but we all contribute different things.”

The play of the midfield has paved the way for forwards like Zach Klindworth and Jesus Fernandez to come up big in the scoring category for the Vikings.

The same could be said for Valencia goalkeeper Gino Ferraro, who has done an admirable job this season.

But one thing Coach Scalercio has harped on all season is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This team has fully bought into that concept.

“I think it would hurt us if we had a standout (player),” Ferry said. “Nobody has an ego. We all play for each other.”

On Wednesday at 5 p.m., Valencia takes the field for its second-round game against Temescal Canyon at Valencia High School.

Count on Valencia’s midfield to do what it always does in that game.

Just don’t expect them to brag about it.

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