Captaining a championship-winning team in the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, being awarded the tournament’s Bronze Ball, and winning numerous Arizona State Cups are just some of the feats Julie Johnston has conquered. Next on her list: the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Johnston, a Mesa, Ariz. native, recently finished her senior season at Santa Clara University and the 21-year-old is expected by many to be an early first round draft pick in next week’s second-ever NWSL College Draft.
During her four years at Santa Clara, the defender/defensive midfielder received a great deal of recognition for her talent.
Named a Hermann Trophy semifinalist for the third consecutive year, Johnston was also named one of Glamour Magazine’s ‘Top 10 College Women of 2013.’
“Julie has had an incredible 14 months. A two-time First-Team All-American, captain of the U-20 World Cup champions, Bronze Ball winner, Hermann Trophy semifinalist and U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year,” Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith said, listing Johnston’s recent accomplishments. “To accomplish all of that and be listed alongside some incredible college women is something we’re all very proud of.”
Captaining the Under-20 U.S. women’s national team throughout the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Cup really put Johnston on the map. While leading her team to the United States’ third U-20 Women’s World Cup win, Johnston received the Bronze Ball, signifying her as the third best player during the course of the tournament.
Prior to the World Cup, Christie Rampone, captain of the senior team, sent the U-20 team a letter of encouragement and Johnston says that is what really encouraged her and her teammates.
“[Christie] wrote a very sincere letter that really motivated us in the tournament, and she gave some great insight on helping to become a world champion,” Johnston said. “Her leadership really drives me to want to be a better leader.”
Months after becoming a world champion, Johnston met Rampone while the senior national team prepared for a match in Johnston’s home state of Arizona.
Johnston told Rampone she hoped to be a part of the senior team someday. Little did she know that just one month later, new head coach Tom Sermanni would include her in his 29-player January 2013 training camp roster.
While admitting she was “starstruck” when first meeting the senior team, Johnston was quick to note that the older girls were improving her game more than ever.
On Feb. 9, 2013 during Sermanni’s first official game as head coach, Johnston earned her first senior team cap, coming on for defender Becky Sauerbrunn 83 minutes into the match. Sermanni showed his enthusiasm to integrate the next generation of players by also giving Christen Press and Kristie Mewis their first caps.
Johnston earned her second—and final cap to date—two months later when the U.S. women’s national team defeated the Dutch team in The Hague. After playing just seven minutes in her first match, this match was different: Johnston not only started, but played the full 90 minutes.
Adding up her international experience and her 31 goals and 22 assists during four years at Santa Clara, the versatile player could be an asset to any NWSL team. Not bad for someone who chose not to play high school soccer, huh?