By John Philip Wyllie
It didn’t take long for Otay Ranch midfielder, Veronica Valderrama, to live up to the expectations created by her older sisters. Valderrama’s hat trick two weeks ago, led the Mustangs to a 5-1 rout of San Diego High in what was the first ever soccer match for the new South Bay high school.
Both Angela and Lina Valderrama starred for coach, Ron Pietila during his long tenure at Bonita Vista High. Now in the process of developing a new soccer tradition at Otay Ranch High, Pietila is pleased to have the youngest of the soccer playing Valderrama sisters at his disposal.
“I coached both Angie and Lina and they were all-league players,” Pietila said. “I suspect Veronica will become an all-league player as well. Just like her sisters, she is a tough kid, knows how to play the game and she, like all good players, has great vision.”
Valderrama has the burden of upholding the family name on the soccer field and fulfilling the naturally high expectations that come with being a part of that family. While both of her older sisters were high school soccer stars, Lina went on to become a starting flank mid-fielder for Leonardo Cuellar’s Mexican national team. While following in her sister’s footsteps might be something for Veronica to consider down the road, at the moment, she has a loftier goal. She would like to someday play for the powerful U.S. national team.
“If I ever had a chance to play for the U.S., I would,” Valderrama said. Currently a part of the U.S. Olympic Development Program and knowing that it is only possible to represent one country in international competition, she will bide her time and attempt to get established on this side of the border.
Valderrama is currently more focused on helping to make the Otay Ranch Mustangs into a winning side. Newly established teams, don’t generally fair well in the competitive world of San Diego County high school soccer. The Mustangs, playing without a junior and senior class this season will have lack of experience as an added burden. Valderrama, however, remains optimistic.
“I think we’ll be pretty good this season, but I think we will be a lot better next year.” Pietila concurs and expects Valderrama to be a key to the Mustangs’ chances of improvement. Her versatility will no doubt help.
“Veronica plays in the midfield for us most of the time, but when we need to, we can move her up front. She has terrific technical skills and she strikes the ball well. Her main job however, is to control the middle of the field. She does that really well.”
With her older sisters occasionally dropping in for her games and to help out at practices, Valderrama knows that as she progresses down the trail blazed by her two older sisters, she will have plenty of support along the way.