Sports

Keeping the goal

Bremerton goalkeeper Laura Johnson is a frequent target for opponents but things could be improving as the Knights have a new defensive scheme. - Photo by Chris Mulally
Bremerton goalkeeper Laura Johnson is a frequent target for opponents but things could be improving as the Knights have a new defensive scheme.
— image credit: Photo by Chris Mulally

She’s the one standing between the white bars of the soccer goal, hands on her hips. The tall girl. The one with the loud game-time voice. She anchors the position that no one else covets, and according to her coach, she’s one of the best in the Narrows League.

As the goalie of Bremerton High School’s soccer team for the past three seasons, Laura Johnson never gets bored.

The ball is always rolling on her side of the field. And because Bremerton girl’s soccer is notorious for having a lackluster defense, she is always diving, fielding or colliding for a play at any moment of any half.

“I see the ball probably more than any goalie in the league,” Johnson said.

It’s what she says has made her improve so much, and it is one of the reasons she’s become a leader like no one else on the team.

“Being in the position I am in I can see the majority of the field and where people should be at,” she said. “It’s a position of leadership.”

People look to her on corner kicks, and for defensive advice. She can see openings on the field and where the opposition is slipping the ball in.

When someone on the field isn’t covering the right spot, Johnson’s the first to point out, “that was your ball.”

“I attempt to be constructive with everything I say because people don’t respond to negative criticism at all,” Johnson said.

Last year was frustrating for her because she was the only one talking on the field. With no communication, the players looked like little islands standing alone against the rush of oncoming opponents.

The Knight’s had their problems. Many wanted to prove themselves and pushed unsuccessfully for the spotlight. Worse yet, a lot of the team really didn’t care.

“People would just stand there and watch the other team dribble by,” Johnson said.

It happened in the latter parts of the first and second half of every game, when powerhouse teams like Gig Harbor started running up the score.

“When your team gives up they are only going to score more,” she said.

Although some of the varsity players on this year’s team haven’t had tremendous soccer backgrounds, Johnson first picked up the game in the first grade after she broke her leg.

When her cast was removed, her parents wanted her to play sports to recover some of her muscle tissue, and as the leaves were turning yellow on the trees, Johnson picked up soccer.

Although she liked being outside and hanging out with friends early on, after playing on club and select teams for the next decade, she digs the intensity now.

Especially the one-on-one chances, which often end up in collisions.

“You hope the forward maybe jumps over you but they are going for the ball just as much as you are,” Johnson said.

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