Many girls soccer players aspire to make the varsity squad as a freshman. Not Erica Peeples.
When Arbor View opened in 2005, Peeples enrolled as an out-of-zone student and, according to Clark County School District rules, was ineligible for varsity competition.
“I knew I would have to play JV,” Peeples said. “Soccer was not my main concern coming here. I came here for academics.”
After arriving on the varsity team as a sophomore, though, Peeples has helped turn Arbor View into a major player in the challenging Northwest League.
Last season, the Aggies finished third behind Centennial and Palo Verde and went 13-3-3 overall, losing 3-0 to eventual state champion Centennial in the Sunset Region semifinals.
“I don’t think many kids would have done that and not many parents would have done that, and that’s why she’s such a good girl,” Arbor View coach Jay Howard said. “A lot of kids would sit out, but that’s the type of kid she is. She stayed a part of the program.”
Peeples’ family had to apply for a zone variance to allow her to attend Arbor View. Students who receive a zone variance aren’t eligible to play a varsity sport in their first season under the variance but can play on the junior varsity team.
“It was a learning experience because I had to learn to play through hard times,” Peeples said. “It helped me. What I learned I can use throughout any life situation, no matter if it’s in the classroom or the soccer field or just hanging out with friends.”
On the field, Peeples is strong with both feet and opportunistic in front of the goal, Howard said. Peeples, a forward who scored 29 times as a junior, will play next season at the University of San Diego.
“We know and trust she can score goals, and that puts a lot of confidence in us,” said senior midfielder Ashlea Andrade, who is responsible for many of the assists on Peeples’ goals. “When I’m passing the ball, it’s not necessarily to her feet. I can pass to a specific space, and I know she has the speed to get there and get the ball.”
Peeples had three goals Tuesday in the Aggies’ season-opening 7-0 win at Eldorado.
While Peeples garners much of the attention for her goal-scoring prowess, Howard thinks this is his most balanced team. The Aggies return nearly all of their starters from 2007 and have a talented freshman class.
“We have a lot of juniors that have been with me for three years, so there’s a comfort and a familiarity to what we’re doing and what I expect out of them,” Howard said. “They’re all good players, and since they’ve played together, hopefully that will carry over.”
Still, there is the matter of getting past perennial powers Centennial and Palo Verde. Last season, the Aggies split with Palo Verde while tying and losing against Centennial. But Arbor View is optimistic this is the year it can break through.
“The seniors who have been here all four years really want to make this year special and go (further) than we have,” Andrade said. “Everybody is talking about it, even people that don’t go to our school. That’s motivated the team to go out and prove them right.”