Right now the world’s best athletes are chasing their Olympic dreams in London, putting years of hard work to use as they compete for themselves and their countries. Like them, local youth athletes are also working hard towards their own goals, not quite international endeavors, but important nonetheless.
Important because small goals eventually snowball into larger ones; after all, even Hope Solo had to play youth soccer before getting the chance to represent team USA.
So as the USA Women’s Soccer team battles the likes of Sweden and Brazil, the U-9 Modesto Ajax Girls’ Soccer Club readies for their toughest competition to date as the Mustang Stampede Tournament approaches. With a 17-4-4 record, an 8th place ranking in NorCal, and an Inter Rage Summerfest Tournament Championship under their belts, the young ladies of the Modesto Ajax seem to have the talent to overcome the pressure.
“This group is strong. There are 80 teams in Northern California in their age group and they’re in the top 10, so I’d say they’ve done pretty well,” head coach Tim Leonard said. “There’s a lot of talent in the Valley.”
In addition to their first place finish at Inter Rage Summerfest, the Modesto Ajax also earned a third place finish at the California Cup as well as a close second place in the Pleasanton Rage Showcase after a double overtime loss in the finals.
Although these young ladies have already impressed many in the area, their primary objective is to qualify for November’s NorCal State Cup Tournament, the toughest test for every youth soccer club. Before they can do that, however, they must first finish well at the Mustang Stampede Tournament and then perform well at the State Cup Preliminaries.
Coach Leonard, who has taken three teams to the State Cup in the past, feels confident his group of girls can get the job done.
“We’re working towards a state cup in November,” Leonard said. “I feel good about our chances. It’s difficult with 80 teams, but they’re progressing well so I’m really confident.”
The Mustang Stampede Tournament will be held in Danville on Aug. 10 and the State Cup Preliminaries will begin the final week of August.