SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With one Bronco already making her National Team debut this year, Santa Clara women's soccer had two players play a big role in the U-23 National Team's recent win in the Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain. Julie Johnston and Morgan Marlborough both scored goals in the U.S.'s two-win showing at the tournament this week.
"This a big tournament of the U-23 team with a lot of top-teams taking part," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith. "Any time you have a player represent the U.S. it's always a big deal and you're very proud. To have two players start every game and be difference makers, accounting for half of the team's six goals in one game, is special. I'm very proud of both of them and they represented the university and U.S. Soccer very well."
In the first game of the tournament, the U.S. took down Norway 3-1. Johnston, playing defender, had a hand in the second goal when she challenged the Norwegian goalkeeper for the ball and it popped out to a U.S. teammate who knocked it in. Marlborough started the game but did not have a hand in the scoring.
The second game saw the United States take down Sweden 6-0 behind two goals from Marlborough and a goal and an assist from Johnston. Marlborough's first goal came off of a corner kick that was headed to her in the box in the second minute. In the 20th minute Johnston crashed to the goal and finished with a strong header to put the U.S. up 2-0. The third goal saw Johnston get the assist to Marlborough. Sweden failed to clear a U.S. corner and Johnston tracked down the ball and hit a low cross on the ground to Marlborough who knocked it home.
Smith knows that with Marlborough sitting out the Fall due to NCAA transfer rules, having success and scoring goals will be a huge benefit when she suits up for the Broncos next year.
"The level of play in international competition is higher than in collegiate soccer," said Smith. "What usually happens when a player has success on the international stage is that they build confidence for when they come back and play at the collegiate level. Julie is continuing to build her confidence on the international level after playing in the World Cup in the Fall. Morgan didn't play last season due to the NCAA transfer rules so it was important for her to get out there and take that next step after playing in her first real competition in quite some time. What we really hope for is that their experiences will help them at Santa Clara and then help them graduate to the full National Team."
With most collegiate players around the country only competing in practice, the two Broncos are benefitting from high-level competition during the offseason.
"Competing right now makes a big difference for players," said Smith. "The NCAA has their rules about practicing and playing during the offseason so that students make academics a priority. For Julie and Morgan to play in high-level games is a tremendous benefit. You can't manufacture opportunities like that at the college level and they are making the most of this chance."