TOKYO, Japan - Winning the U-20 World Cup as the captain was a huge deal for Bronco forward Julie Johnston and being awarded the Bronze Ball was just icing on the cake! Playing against the best in the world in the under-20 age group, the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team, captained by Johnson, won the U-20 World Cup by taking down Germany 1-0 on Sept. 8. Germany had taken down the U.S. 3-0 during group play and hadn't surrendered a goal in six games during the tournament. The lone goal of the match was scored by Kealia Ohai on an assists from Crystal Dunn. It is the third championship for the U.S. squad, one more than Germany.
"Winning the World Cup was awesome," said Johnston, a junior at Santa Clara. "It's like living a dream and I've re-lived that day every day, every minute since we won it. The celebrations were fun, the games were fun and the team was fun. If I could sum it up in one word it would be amazing."
"I can't say enough about what Julie has done in the past nine months," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "For a sophomore to be First-Team All-American is unbelievable. To be selected as one of 18 players on the U.S. U-20 World Cup team is unbelievable. I can't think of a higher honor than to be selected as captain. The team was up and down through the tournament so as a leader she was challenged. The U.S. head coach Steve Swanson sent me an email saying how much Julie did for the team on the field and off."
Johnston won the Bronze Ball, which is given to the third-best player in the entire tournament. Johnston was the only American to win an individual award and did her damage as center back.
"My eyes filled up straight away and I cried a little," said Johnston on being awarded the Bronze Ball. "It was so unexpected. I was so happy with winning the World Cup and then a woman approached me and told me I'd won the Bronze Ball. I feel very honored. I came here to play for the team. It's just such a big surprise. Normally it's the attacking players who get these awards, not defenders. I'm so happy and proud. It means a lot to me."
"Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, she's being recognized at the end as the Bronze Ball winner," said Smith. "The award means she was the third-best player in the tournament and therefore the third-best player in the world for the U-20 age group. She was the only U.S. player to get individual recognition. What a wonderful honor for her."
Johnston has returned to her Bronco teammates who are 3-2-2 in her absence. Santa Clara won 1-0 at No. 15 Cal while battling to a 1-1 tie vs. No. 23 Georgetown. Johnston's first game back will be Fri., Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Santa Clara Tournament.
Sophomore Sofia Huerta recently rejoined the team after playing for Mexico in the U-20 World Cup. Huerta made her first 2012 appearance for Santa Clara in a 1-1 tie vs. Georgetown where she created several chances for the offense. On Sept. 9 vs. Boston, Huerta scored the only goal in 1-0 Bronco victory.