Ainsley Ahmadian scored 12 goals in six matches for the Chicago Red Stars Reserves during the 2019 season. [James Smith]
NAPERVILLE, Illinois — Ainsley Ahmadian, 18, elevated her game this season with the Chicago Red Stars Reserves.
A senior at Waubonsie Valley High School, she already has many of the attributes required to make it as a professional player. Her maturity and discipline on-the-field proved her to be a regular threat this season, forcing her opponents to deal with opportunistic and creative attacks.
In the six games Ahmadian played, she became the leading scorer for the Red Star Reserves with 12 goals in addition to three assists.
Despite scoring a double brace in an exhibition vs. Chicago Rush U23 and a hat trick vs. Indy Saints, the game that sticks out most for Red Stars Reserves coach Brian Kibler is Ahmadian’s performance in their playoff game with Motor City FC.
“We went down ten players 30 minutes into the game and took the game into overtime,” Kibler said. “Ainsley was required to do even more than usual – especially on the defensive side – and she rose to the challenge. She showed real maturity and a glimpse of where she is headed.”
Ahmadian scored the two goals for Chicago in its 4-2 loss in that game vs. Motor City. However, this game also stands out for her as a favorite of the season.
“It was exciting, challenging, and very high energy, even throughout the second period of overtime,” Ahmadian said. “A red card, two PKs and over 100 minutes of gameplay made for an unpredictable but fun game.”
Ahmadian has always seen herself playing at the highest level and, with her competitiveness, saw the WPSL as the perfect challenge to continue to develop her game.
“Playing with the Red Stars Reserves in the WPSL was a great experience,” Ahmadian said. “We played some good competition, and playing against high-level players, both in training and in games, helped me improve a lot with speed of play and decision making.”
A strong mentality is needed to train with this club, for Kibler has set the standards high for his players to keep them focused and performing at their best throughout the season.
“The players are there to grow, learn and develop, so it is our job to channel that to get the absolute most from them,” Kibler said. “It’s humbling to serve them on their journeys and see where they take it.”
Kibler created a culture designed as a program to bridge players from their current level to the next (and ultimately) professional contract with the right team for them. This gives his players the opportunity to develop in a professional atmosphere with other likeminded players.
Ahmadian thrived in this, and Kibler described her as hard working and always playing to her best ability.
“Her attack mindedness is always looking for ways to break down opposing defenses, whether on her own or through combination play,” Kibler said. “She is young, hungry and humble, and this was a great environment for her to learn from players up to seven years older than older than her – some that have played professionally, and others working to get there.”
Ahmadian embraced the opportunity to develop her skills with older talent. The veteran players enjoyed her youthful views and bright-eyed ambition, which only fueled them to challenge her more.
“In the WPSL, the speed of play is quicker, and the game is overall more sophisticated,” Ahmadian said. “There are women of all ages on the teams, which makes it interesting to learn from them and their experiences.”
Ahmadian may have gained a lot this season through training with veteran players. However, she also brought experience over her own to the team which made an impact both on- and off-the field.
In 2017, Ahmadian traveled to China with the U.S. Youth National Team where she had the opportunity to play against both China and Japan.
Kibler described the way Ahmadian took care of herself this season before and after games and on her off days as well as through tough training weeks was the discipline you see within those at the professional level.
“The one thing I do before any game or training is a specific ACL prevention warmup,” Ahmadian said. “This warmup also helps me get focused and ready to play.”
This season proved to provide Ahmadian with a great opportunity for growth and experience in her development but also showed the impact Ahmadian had with her teammates, coaches and the WPSL.
“I have known Ainsley since she was 8-years-old, and it is an honor and a joy to have had this opportunity to work with her over those years,” Kibler said. “She had so many quality games this season. I am excited to see where she ultimately takes it.”