Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sam Johnson helps Concordia to NAIA soccer title

Former WRHS soccer star

Express Staff Writer

Samantha Johnson

     Samantha Johnson of Hailey made tons of progress in her high school and collegiate soccer career for Wood River High School, Walla Walla Community College and Concordia Univ.

     All the hours of travel, practices and games paid off for Johnson and her Concordia teammates with an NAIA women’s soccer tournament championship Saturday, Dec. 7 at Orange Beach, Alabama.

     Johnson, a 5-7 senior, was a key member of the Concordia (Ore.) defense that blanked No. 2-seeded Westmont College (Ca.) by a 1-0 score in Saturday’s championship match of the 31-team National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament.

     No. 4-seeded Concordia, coached by Grant Landy, outshot the Warriors 24-4 and got the only goal it needed from senior Hannah Scott of Milwaukie, Ore. in the 65th minute to finish a 22-1-1 campaign with its 18th consecutive triumph.

     The championship game victory was the 18th shutout in 24 games for Johnson and the Cavaliers defense. The title team outscored opponents by an amazing 70-7 margin and lost only at Embry-Riddle (Prescott, Az.) 2-1 on Sept. 15.

     It was the first NAIA national soccer championship for Concordia, which came up short on trips to the final in 2001, 2008 and 2011.

     The national title came one day after Concordia ousted defending national champion Lindsey Wilson of Columbia, Ky. 2-1 in a double overtime semi-final on another Scott winner in the 103th minute.

     Westmont, which was ranked No. 4 in the NAIA poll, finished with a 17-2-5 record. Westmont had played Concordia to a 0-0 draw at Westmont on Aug. 30. Westmont reached the final by beating Northwood of Florida 7-6 on penalty kicks on Friday.

     Johnson, the daughter of Mark and Ann Johnson and older sister of Emma Johnson, was named to the 2013 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship All-Tournament team along with three other defenders.

     One of two Idaho players on the roster, she played all 24 games for the Cavaliers with 1,992 minutes of playing time.

     Johnson played all but four minutes in the five Concordia tournament wins—3-0 over William Jessup (Ca.), 2-0 over St. Thomas (Fla.), 1-0 over Embry-Riddle, 2-1 over Lindsey Wilson and 1-0 over Westmont in the final. She notched two of her three season assists at nationals.

     Last season, her first with Concordia, Johnson played 1,006 minutes for a Cavaliers defense that had 13 shutouts before losing in the NAIA tournament quarter-finals.

     Johnson played the 2010 and 2011 seasons with Walla Walla CC in Washington State, never losing a regular-season game. She won back-to-back NWAACC championships while at Walla Walla and was named to the NWAACC All-Star team after both seasons.

     From 2005-08, she played four seasons at Wood River High School for coach Greg Gvozdas, graduating as the No. 6 all-time leading scorer in school annals with 50 goals (15 freshman, 15 sophomore, 10 junior, 10 senior). She was named team MVP as a junior and senior in Hailey.

     In Johnson’s senior season at Wood River, the Wolverines set school records with an 18-2-1 season record and 131 goals scored. Wood River won the State 4A consolation championship in her junior and senior years, when Johnson was feared by opponents for her devastating free kicks from any place on the pitch.

     Her Wood River teams had a combined 62-15-5 record. She graduated in 2009. She is majoring in Health and Exercise Science at Concordia.

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