The U10 Modesto Ajax youth girls’ soccer head coach, Ricarrdo La Barbera of Italy, has only been in the states for a handful of years but with his insight on soccer play from Europe he has brought a whole new style of play that most people in the area are not accustomed to seeing.
With the technique that is played in Italy, his style has been implemented on the young girls’ team, which is handling possession longer than the opposing squad and wearing them down and it showed last weekend after the squad won the Davis Legacy Super Classico Tournament. And they made it look easy.
“I got congratulations from all referees and organization and that is a good achievement as a coach because girls are progressing,” said La Barbera. “We are playing and teaching the ball possession soccer from Italy.”
They swept through the opposition capturing two clean sheets in four games played, but with the help of three Turlock natives the Ajax squad was able to control the game and pace to their advantage led by goalkeeper Mya Sanchez of Turlock.
“Mya is a hard worker, doesn’t talk a lot but she is able to lead by example which is my favorite thing about her,” La Barbera said about Sanchez. “The girls make mistakes, everyone does, but I love her attitude. Everything is very different here so I am getting used to it and the organization and everything.”
Ajax dropped their home tournament and also fell in the Manteca tournament, however they still managed to reach the championship in both tourneys, but they were just getting used to the new style of play with a new head coach.
The girls of the Ajax team bounced back this time around, and with the much needed practice they were able to bring out their talent in a different style as they outscored their opponents 8-3 in four games.
“In Davis, these girls showed something new I never seen before, we are in process but we are always getting better,” said La Barbera.
In the first contest against San Juan Blue they tied it 0-0, but they rebounded with a 4-1 win over Cal Blues in their second game.
The third game saw a very close matchup but Ajax managed to hold onto the 3-2 win over Stockton Storm, who beat Ajax in the Manteca tournament, which was followed by a tight 1-0 win over Santa Rosa in the championships game.
“The one thing is we beat Stockton which was good revenge from the last tournament,” La Barbera said. “I told the girls that I think it was top level teams, probably the best in Nor Cal and I think especially in that tournament we gave more in terms of passion and the will to win. They were hungry to get to the finals, the passion was there, they were tired but individual players gave a lot of heart and that made the difference.”