Sept. 4, 2000
Rusty Johnson (Jr., GK, O'Fallon, Ill.) was a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection in 1999 and was a third-team preseason All-America honoree heading into this season. He recorded one of the best single-season performances in school history in 1999, including a school record for consecutive shutout minutes. (526:55). Johnson did not play against CSU Sacramento due to a bruised thigh.
Q: Can you explain the preseason expectations placed on this year's team?
A: "Here at Santa Clara there is always a lot of expectation for both of our programs (men's and women's soccer) to succeed. Our team, in particular, is very young and we are learning right now that it takes a lot of different things for us to succeed this year. The neat thing about it is that all of the guys on the team are attacking the issues and we are really growing fast. We are really young right now, but towards the end of the year I think we will be a very mature soccer team for our age. A lot of the pressure that is on us based on last year's success is expected. Pressure is something we can handle. It is a new season, though and everybody is even right now."
Q: What is a unique trait about this year's team?
A: "Because of our youth and the way our veterans have provided leadership, we are really together. It is unique that all of the guys have bonded this quickly. I am really close to a lot of the freshmen already. I know who they are and have gotten to know their personalities really well. Some of the guys I have known for three years, almost four for some of them. In previous years we had a lot of different groups of guys and you could tell the different age groups. The freshmen this year, of course, standout. But all the upper classes really have come together so its seems like there are a lot more seniors out there than there really are. We have really come together really quickly."
Q: Why did you choose to come to Santa Clara University?
A: "I have lived all over the country. My dad was in the military. I lived in the state of Washington for a while and there I knew Joe Ascolese. I knew he came down here and was having a lot of success. I knew that they needed a goalkeeper. I applied here, the University of Washington and Cornell and I had an appointment to the military academy. I walked-on here and made the team and I couldn't be any happier with the decision I made. The first year was kind of rough. We lost our first game in the playoffs. But, every year after that we have made the final four. It has been amazing. My decision also had a lot to do with the school. I am pretty studious. I am an engineering major. For the combination of academics and soccer, I couldn't have made a better decision."
Q: What has been your favorite class since you have been here at Santa Clara?
A: "Dynamic Systems. It is actually a series of two or three classes. I am a mechanical engineering major and this class really discusses solving problems, how things move, rotation, translation and different things. My last dynamics class was amazingly in-depth. It connected a lot of different things that we had learned previously. It was one of the toughest classes I have ever taken, but also the most rewarding."
Q: What do you want to do after college?
A: "I want to try to play (professionally). I am in an unbelievably good situation for doing that. Eric Yamamoto is one of the best goalkeeper coaches in the country and I have three of the best goalkeepers in the country pushing me. I know I have the opportunity. If I decide to work after I graduate, then I won't have the opportunity to play later on. So, now is definitely the time. I would like to play anywhere in the world, particularly in Europe. Goalkeepers reach their prime later in life so I feel like I have the time to continue to grow and get better."
Q: Who is the most interesting person on this year's team?
A: "One of the most special people on the team for me is Joe Ascolese. I have known him since high school. We played against each other and competed a lot. All the guys have very interesting traits. Justin Canel is one of the funniest guys on the team. He can always make someone smile and keep their spirits up. That is interesting in itself. He can always make people laugh. Phil Johnson (no relation) is a really good dancer. He can do a great Michael Jackson impersonation."