Broncos shine in U20 World Cup
Soccer stars represent their countries in Japan
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:09
Santa Clara made its mark this summer at the U20 Women’s World Cup, as midfielder Julie Johnston took the field for the United States and forward Sofia Huerta suited up for Mexico.
Hosted in Japan, the tournament featured 16 premier national teams from across the globe, and after nearly a month of play, the U.S. was crowned World Cup Champions after edging Germany 1-0 in the championship match.
“It was a favorite moment of mine to beat (Germany who) had beaten us in bracket play and could have possibly knocked us out,” said Johnston.
This was the 3rd title for the U.S., the most by any nation, since the tournament’s founding in 2002, but it did not come without a fight. The United States fell to Germany 3-0 in group play.
“It was a huge shock, and upset,” said Johnston. “We haven’t ever had a loss that bad before. We took the positive road about that though. This is a dream that we had, and that team was an obstacle in the way.”
Mexico also made it to the knockout stage but it wasn’t without adversity. Mexico fell to host nation Japan in their first game and ultimately lost in the quarterfinals to Nigeria.
For Huerta, adapting to playing nations from across the globe was a challenge. “You are literally playing so many different countries, and they all play differently,” she said. “Although it’s all soccer, and we all play the same sport, you just have to adjust to the way the other countries play.”
Huerta, who helped Mexico reach the knockout stage with three goals in group play, enjoyed the opportunity to play for her country.
“Representing your country is something that is unexplainable,” said Huerta. “It is a big honor, standing right before the game starts, listening to your national anthem. It’s a feeling that you really cannot explain.”
While playing on the world stage, however, Huerta never forgot Santa Clara.
“I played not only for my country but for Santa Clara too,” said Huerta. “I would always write on my wrists, ‘SCU,’ just because I was always thinking of the girls there.”
Johnston credits her success abroad with her team at home.
“They are the ones that got me there. Before I even made the team, I was practicing with them. The coaches were doing extra training with me to get me there,” said Johnston. “It was an honor to represent the school and even more honorable to say that your last name is on your country’s jersey.”
For Johnston, playing in the U20 World Cup fulfilled her dream.
“When we were younger, this was a dream you would always have. I think that when you get to live your dream, it is pretty remarkable.”
Johnston and Huerta said they were both motivated by the experience and have high hopes for this season.
Huerta emphasized that that being a “technical and tactical soccer player” is important.
“I used to be able to get away with just being fast, but I think Santa Clara has helped mold me into a more technical and tactical player,” said Huerta. “But playing at that high of a caliber, I feel like I am coming back more intellectual about the game, and I feel I can help the team with not only my athleticism but also with my technical and tactical side of soccer.”
Johnston hopes to bring an element of confidence to the team.
“Having the captain role for the under-20 team helped me learn the importance of the team being able to look at me, with me being composed when I need to be, and be a voice also when need be,” said Johnston.
Johnston and Huerta will be back in action this week for the Broncos at Buck Shaw Stadium as they will face CSU Northridge on Friday and Washington State on Sunday.
Contact Matt Leff at email@example.com.