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Cerean leads Modesto-based soccer team
Jose Ramirez, a former member of the Ceres Earthquakes competitive soccer club, played a pivotal role in leading the under-16 Modesto Ajax Elite boys to a trio of titles in recent months.

"He's got a tremendous desire and great ability," head coach Ozzie Toste said. "He listens. He works real hard at practice. He's an outstanding athlete, but a better kid."

Modesto shut out PDA Scholes of New Jersey 3-0 in the title game at the National US Club Soccer Championships on Tuesday, July 29 in Virginia.

The Ajax Elite totaled four wins and one tie at the prestigious tournament.

Modesto beat Cherry Hill FC Firebirds of New Jersey (6-2) and Philadelphia SC Coppa PELE (2-0), and secured a draw with Houstonians FC 91/92 (1-1).

"I'm not surprised at how well we did because I know how good we are," said Toste, whose team ranks fifth in the nation, second in Region H and first in California North.

Added Ramirez: "We worked hard at practice and it showed up in the games."

Modesto amassed four wins and one draw on its way to a first-place showing at the California Cup on June 22 in Sacramento.

The Ajax Elite defeated San Juan Lightning 92 Blue 1-0 in the finals.

Modesto bested San Juan Lightning 92 White (1-0), Davis Legacy Strikers (1-0) and El Camino Real Salinas FC (3-0). The Ajax Elite and California Rush Nike 92 battled to a 0-0 tie.

Modesto topped Bay Oaks Gold (2-1), Davis Legacy SC Strikers (1-0), Stanford SC Landslide (2-0) and Sacramento United Elite (4-3), and tied Novato YSA Novato United 91 (3-3) en route to claiming top honors at the US Club Soccer Regional Championships. The tournament was held, June 14-17, in Modesto.

Jose suited up for Ozzie's Manteca Rangers under-15 and under-14 clubs the previous two seasons.

Ramirez started at center midfielder for the Ajax Elite.

"Everything goes through him like a point guard in basketball," Toste said.

Said Ramirez: "I really enjoy making plays for my teammates."

Jose will be a sophomore at Central Valley in 2008-09. He helped guide the varsity boys soccer program to its first-ever playoff appearance as a freshman.

Ramirez started at forward and logged playing time at attacking midfielder as well.

"He's one of the better players in the area," Toste said.

Modesto (16-5-2) will compete in an under-17 tournament, Aug. 8-10, in Santa Clara.

The Ajax United will try to extend their 14-game unbeaten streak.