Kailtyn Lopez is poised to trigger nightmares for a lot of soccer goalies.
Lopez, a rising Ironwood Ridge freshman, is competing this week among the country’s top 100 14-and-under players at U.S. Soccer’s National Player Pool in Pomona, Calif.
Lopez is the only Arizonan at the camp, which places 25 players from four national regions onto a path that could lead to college scholarships — and Olympic tryouts.
“It’s quite an honor knowing you’re in the top 100 players among your age group in the nation,” Lopez said.
The Arizona Rush forward doesn’t know why she fell in love with soccer in the first place, only that she’s gunning for a spot on the Nighthawks’ varsity squad this fall.
The position could be a lock. Rush coach Dalton Kaufman said Lopez held her own against internationally tested players twice her age when she first joined the league.
“She’s a pretty reserved kid, but when that whistle blows, she’s a beast,” Kaufman said. “Playing against the best, she’ll only get better.”
A Mia Hamm poster adorned Lopez’ bedroom wall years before she was old enough to climb the ladder and hang it herself. At the U.S. Soccer camp, she’ll debut her skills for the entire country to admire.
“I hope to just do my best and show ’em what I got,” Lopez said.