September 4, 2012

Johnston Helps Lead U-20 Women's National Team to World Cup Final

TOKYO, Japan - Playing on the world's stage, Santa Clara junior captain Julie Johnston and the U-20 Women's National Team advanced to the championship of the U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan where it will play Germany. The game will take place on Sept. 8 at 3:20 a.m. PDT in Tokyo. Germany took down Japan 3-0 in the semi-finals and beat the U.S. 3-0 in the group stage.

After advancing to the knockout stage, the U.S. team took down Korea DPR 2-1 in overtime, and then moved to the finals with a 2-0 victory over Nigeria in the semi-finals.

Against Korea DPR, the U.S. captain Johnston and fellow center back Cari Roccaro ran down every through ball and defended beautifully against every long pass to help keep Korea DPR from registering a shot on goal in overtime.

In the semi-final vs. Nigeria the Americans dodged an early bullet and went on top 1-0 halfway through the first half. They added another goal in the 70th minute to seal the win.

"I think we learned a lot from Nigeria," said Johnston. "They are a very fast team and we saw that from the first run of play. We knew we needed to be smart and understand what type of game this was. We told each other that we didn't want any goals against and we left it all on the field and I'm very proud of them."

Even though she hasn't scored in the tournament, something she did nine times for the 2011 Broncos, Johnston, along with her teammates, are only concerned with one thing: winning.

"Everyone has a role," said Johnston. "This is the fifth game we've played and fatigue can set in during these kinds of games. We told each other before the game, no matter what, work hard for each other, work hard for yourself and work hard for this team and that's what everyone's mindset was and I think it really showed."

Even after the second goal scored, the Americans did not take anything for granted.

"When Kealia [Ohai] scored the goal I was so excited," continued Johnston. "There was a little relief, yes, as we had some cushion, but it was not like we were going to let off the gas at all. It just meant that we needed to be smarter now. I was so happy for her. She works so hard down the sideline.

When the final whistle sounded, Johnston and her teammates were elated.

"I was so excited," said Johnston. "I was screaming. I was about to cry. I was so emotional. I sat down (on the bench) and sighed in relief. I am just so excited that we got to the final. I think our team deserved it. It was awesome."