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Leifried makes name for herself in soccer
• Patricia Kay Beaver eighth-grader earns invitation to U.S. Soccer Identification Camp
Savannah Leifried
Savannah Leifried’s recent play earned her invitations to the U.S. Soccer Identification Camp and NorCal Premier State PDP Game. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Savannah Leifried’s soccer journey began 11 years ago.

Introduced to the sport at the age of 3 as she trained with cousin Chance Cowell under the tutelage of their grandfather Ed, Leifried has since developed into one of the top club players in the state. 

Savannah turned 14 on Monday.

“Soccer is really important to me,” said Leifried, an eighth-grade student at Patricia Kay Beaver Leadership Magnet School in Ceres. “I enjoy waking up and thinking about it every day. You have to make sacrifices to become the best. It will all be worth it in the end.”

“I have a good mindset,” she added. “I know what I want. I always give 100 percent. I’m good with the ball. I’m really technical. That comes from hard work.”

Leifried attended the Under-15 Girls U.S. Soccer Federation Identification Camp on Oct. 18 in Danville.

She logged playing time at left back and attacking midfielder as talent managers evaluated players for possible selection to Youth National Teams.

“She’s had some great moments,” mother Lacey Leifried said. “This was the next step for her. She was really excited. These milestones for Savannah are really big. I’m so proud of her. She’s very driven. When she doesn’t have practice, she does private training. She’s relentless.”

“It was a really good experience,” Savannah said. “It was great to finally make something like that. I deserved it. I’ve trained so hard.”

Leifried contributed at midfielder while competing in the NorCal Premier Under-16 State Player Development Program Game on Nov. 1 in Lathrop.

“I got to play up an age group,” she said. “It was challenging. I loved it.”

“It’s awesome to see her get rewarded because she works so hard,” Lacey said. 

Leifried played in the Ceres Youth Soccer Organization’s recreational league for two seasons prior to joining the competitive ranks at the age of 6.

“She’s been playing soccer nonstop for a long time,” Lacey said. “She’s worked so hard. We’ve never had to push her.”

Leifried was a member of the Modesto Ajax program for three years.

She honed her skills while suiting up for the San Jose Earthquakes Girls Academy and FC Bay Area Surf for a combined five seasons. Bay Area Surf was founded after the Quakes Academy closed in 2020. Leifried practiced four nights a week in San Jose. Games were played on the weekends.

“We drive 11/2 hours each way for soccer training now,” Lacey said.

Leifried joined the Rancho Cordova-based San Juan Soccer Club’s under-15 Elite Blue Girls Team in September.

She’s scored nine goals and dished out 11 assists.

“God gave me the talent I needed to succeed. But my parents have been really supportive. I’ve always loved soccer. I stepped up my training as I got older. I want to keep learning. I want to continue to improve and challenge myself.”
Savannah Leifried

“God gave me the talent I needed to succeed,” Savannah said. “But my parents have been really supportive. I’ve always loved soccer. I stepped up my training as I got older. I want to keep learning. I want to continue to improve and challenge myself.”

Watching her cousins Chance and Cade Cowell experience success at a high level in the sport has served as a reminder that anything is attainable with hard work and dedication.

“She’s happy for them,” Lacey said.

Chance scored two goals while making his debut with Mexico’s under-15 Men’s Youth National Soccer Team versus Morocco during friendly competition this past May.

The Cesar Chavez Jr. High eighth-grader signed with the Sacramento Republic FC Academy Development Program in April.

“Her and Chance are only four months apart,” Lacey said. “They grew up together like twins. They’ve motivated each other. I think that’s awesome.”

“Me and Chance are really close,” Savannah said. “I’m proud of his success.”

Cade signed a professional contract with the San Jose Earthquakes at the age of 15 in January of 2019.

The 2018 Cesar Chavez Jr. High grad earned the club’s Young Player of the Year award and a selection to the Major League Soccer All-Star Team in 2021. He holds numerous age-specific club records, including youngest player to make an MLS appearance (16 years, 150 days), youngest player to make an MLS start (16 years, 325 days), and youngest player to score an MLS goal (16 years, 325 days).

Cade made his debut with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team during an international friendly match against Bosnia & Herzegovina on Dec. 18 in Carson.

He has also made appearances for the United States at the U-16, U-17 and U-20 levels.

“Savannah really wants to play at the highest level,” Lacey said. “She knows that it’s possible. She’s had a front row seat to Cade and his life. She’s chasing that dream.”

“I want to be just like Cade,” Savannah stated.

“She looks up to Cade so much,” Lacey added.

Leifried already has her future mapped out.

A 4.0 student this past school year, Savannah will become the first person from her family to attend a four-year university.

“I’d like to go to an amazing college like Stanford or UCLA,” she said. “It will be icing on the cake if I get invited to a U.S. Camp or go pro.”

“The thing I admire the most about Savannah is her drive,” Lacey said.  “From a very young age, she said she wanted to play soccer. She’s always had a passion for it. She’s so motivated. She has a good combination of work ethic and talent. She’s also super humble. She’s going to go after what she wants in everything. That’s how she’s always been.”

Savannah Leifried soccer
Savannah Leifried has played club soccer since the age of 6. She’s currently a member of the Rancho Cordova-based San Juan under-15 Elite Blue Girls Team. - photo by Contributed to the Courier