Jordan High School soccer star chases World Cup dreams

Sunday, June 21, 2015
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Jordan High School's Brianna Pinto could be the next big name as she looks to chase her dream of making the next World Cup roster.

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Brianna Pinto's knack for soccer came at a very early age and during her very first game.

"What happened was a boy dribbled past her, scored a goal and then he tried it again, and she took it from him, and she scored eight goals that game," said her father, Hassan Pinto.

"I was always at the soccer field. So I kind of just watched and waited for my turn to play, and when I got the opportunity, I took it right to the goal," Brianna said.

Brianna's older brother and father introduced her to the pitch at age five, and soon her abilities began to develop at an accelerated rate.

"The boys weren't as fast as her, she scored whenever she wanted, she did step-over moves," Hassan said. "I had to ask her, 'When did you learn that?' and she said, 'I watched you and my brother do it,' and I looked at my wife and said, 'This is special.'"

Brianna played competitively against boys' teams until two-and-a-half years ago, and in her first high school season at Jordan this year, she scored 24 goals in just 13 games.

"Brianna is a very special player," her father said. "What I think is changing right now is her competition - her will to compete and her want to be the best. When I watch her, she wants to score all the goals. She wants to win all the running drills. When I watch her, she's really with the competitive cauldron and basically trying to dominate every aspect of the game and be number one at that."

Her drive and talent also helped her sweep local and state-wide honors, including the coveted North Carolina Girls' Soccer Gatorade Player of the Year Award.

"We've had Gatorade Players of the Year, but I don't believe we've had a freshman win it before," Hassan said.

"I was kind of overwhelmed when I won," Brianna said. "I was like, 'Whoa.' I just saw my whole soccer team, my classmates, the superintendent, both my coaches, all my teachers, and it was just a really special moment."

Brianna's father played soccer at UNC during the 1990s, and his daughter will follow in his footsteps. She committed to the Tar Heels' program at age 14.

"She wanted to play at UNC," Hassan said. "She painted her room Carolina blue probably seven, eight years ago, and that was the goal, and she achieved it."

The rising high school sophomore also has a chance to reach the same heights as her favorite player and Tar Heel alum, Mia Hamm, as a current member of the United States Under-17 National team.

"We're going to have at least eight more camps from here until March, and there's a plan to go to Europe in the end of August 2016," Brianna said. "I'm hoping that, at this next domestic camp, I can do well and get invited to that international team."

If all goes well, Pinto could be the next big soccer star from the state of North Carolina, and the young star continues to dream big.

"I want to win a World Cup, and I think that if I continue to work throughout high school, I can potentially make the next World Cup," she said. "If I get a first cap with the full National team, I think that would be a really special feeling, and winning a World Cup would be like no other experience."

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