By Brittany Filippini & Eileen Gutierrez |Staff Writers|
While sisters Kristina and Erika Gomez shine on the soccer field, one has struggled off the field but managed to keep her spirits up through it all.
Erika, the younger of the two, is a junior here at CSUSB and has had some battles on and off the field. Though her freshmen year was filled with progress and good feelings, her sophomore year is when she was faced with health issues.
“My sophomore year during the middle of season I had a tumor removed from my breast and I had problems with my liver which caused me to have no appetite and energy,” said Erika.
Doctors never really found out what the main cause of her liver problems were except finding the liver enzymes were elevated above normal and the liver was inflamed and swollen.
Thankfully, the tumor was not cancerous and the serious health issues have not destroyed her spirit. Before finding out she was sick, Erika struggled during practice and could not understand what exactly was wrong.
“It was like one thing after another, and I kept wondering when it was going to end,” said Erika.
Erika explained she struggled getting back in shape for soccer, but her dad, sister, family and friends encouraged her to get back and train for this year’s soccer season.
Coach Travis Clarke said the girls family travel to every game to see the soccer team play and encourage the team, giving high fives and cheering from the stands.
These two girls may be sisters, but their personalities are very different. The girls soccer coach Travis Clarke said, “They are two totally different players and people with very different personalities but they are a huge part of our team.”
When asked what they bring to the team, he said each have positive energy.
“Two weeks ago, when we were on a bit of a losing streak, they were the two most positive players,” said Clarke.
Clarke also explained that while Erika was recovering, she was out on the field on the sidelines encouraging her team and still being an active teammate.
Although these two are very different, they have a close bond that has stayed strong through the ups and downs.
Soccer has been an opportunity when the girls can come together and interact even through their busy schedules and extra curricular activities they partake in.
“You always have a friend to talk to and do drills with which is awesome because Erika is my best friend,” said Kristina.
As far as soccer being a part of their future lives after college Kristina says, “I hope my kids play soccer and that’s about it. I don’t intend to play professionally.”
While Erika is still deciding on her future post-graduation, she like her sister, does not see soccer as being an intense part of her life as it is now. Despite this, they are as dedicated now to the team and will continue to bring that contagious positive energy to the team.
Figo and Little Figo
The Faggioni brothers are four years apart and have never played soccer together– until now.
The brothers, Brett and Dylan, hail from Mesa, Ariz. where they say they did not have a chance to become close. The two have become closer since rooming in the same house.
Until now, the boys never played soccer together, not even in their young childhood.
Brett is a team captain in his senior year. Dylan is a freshman.
The boys joke around, referring to Brett being the “husband” and Dylan the “wife.” Brett explained his off campus job helps support his brother, but Dylan does the cooking and cleaning.
“I buy his food,” said Brett, of his younger brother Dylan. “He paid me to do his laundry the other night,” said Dylan.
The two say they do not discuss game strategy by themselves, only along with other teammates in their house.
Teammate D.J. Vigil encouraged Brett to play soccer for CSUSB after leaving UC Irvine because of financial reasons.
Dylan found his was to CSUSB after catching Coach Noah Kooiman’s attention at a soccer tournament in San Diego.
When asked what its like to play with his younger brother, Brett joked, “It’s like playing with a worse version of myself,” but later continued more seriously, “he’s done really well. Every once in a while, when he relieves me, I ask him to turn over the ball so I can keep my starting spot.”
“I don’t play any differently,” said Dylan.
The brothers definitely agree to the advantages of playing together, saying it is easier to read each other since they “play the exact same way” according to Brett.
If Dylan follows in the same footsteps as Brett, he is sure to be a leader for the team in the future.
Dylan explains that he does feel pressure to step up and fill his older brother’s shoes when Brett graduates this year.
“Figo,” the nickname given to Brett, has seem to be put upon Dylan as well. Coach Kooiman calls Brett “Figo,” and Dylan “Little Figo.”
Brett elaborated that Figo was the name on the Portuguese soccer jersey his parents bought for him while in Portugal. He wore the jersey to a soccer camp in seventh grade, and the name has stuck.
This is Brett’s final season at CSUSB. He intends on attending dental school after graduation, which he calls “a long road.”
Dylan will be a sophomore next year and hopefully continue in his brother’s footsteps.
Brett and Dylan have each scored one goal this season.