SANTA CLARA, Calif. - While most students are still shaking off the rust of a three week winter break, Santa Clara University women's soccer was well represented at the U20 Women's Soccer National Team Camp in January. First-Team All-American and First-Team All-WCC sophomore Julie Johnston and First-Team All-WCC freshman Sofia Huerta worked with some of the best young talent in the country. Johnston and Huerta were first and second on the Bronco roster in goals scored in 2011 with nine and eight, respectively. Johnston, a member of the active roster, went to La Manga, Spain a month later to compete with the team in U20 World Cup qualifying.
The camp lasted two weeks, from Jan. 5-19 in Chula Vista, Calif. It consisted of two-a-days that tested each player's stamina. The goal of the camp was to prepare for the U20 World Cup in Japan from Dec. 6-16 that will host 16 teams from all six FIFA confederations. This is the seventh edition of the tournament.
"This was my third time with the U20 team but the first time I have gone to the training," said Johnston. "The camp was incredibly competitive but at the same time so much fun. It feels like another branch of my family. I have my Santa Clara family and my National Team family. It's great to know that all of us at the camp have the same aspirations and goals."
"I had never been to the U20 training camp and it was intimidating at first to be with such great soccer players," said Huerta. "When I was a freshman in high school I worked with the national team but back then it was more about having fun and gaining experience. This time you could definitely tell who the rookies were and who had been there before but after the first few days I got comfortable and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go."
While in Spain from Feb. 3-15 Johnston was on a team that beat Switzerland by a score of 10-0 in its first game and Germany 1-0. In the game against Switzerland Johnston scored the first goal in the sixth minute off an assist from Morgan Brian of the University of Virginia. The last game of the tournament was against Norway and the American team came away with a 2-0 victory that clinched the Four Nations title for the U.S.
The next step for the American team is next month's CONCACAF qualifying tournament from Mar. 1-11 in Panama City, Panama. Three teams from that tournament will advance to the U20 Women's World Cup.
Johnston hopes to continue to show her team, and the rest of the world, what Bronco women's soccer can do on the biggest stage.