Johnson's Escalating Confidence Is Apparent
AMES, Iowa - Ashley Johnson, a sophomore from Gautier, Miss., is starting the 2012 soccer season off on a high note. After coming off the bench the first five games of the season, Johnson has flourished the past three as a starter. Johnson has rewarded Iowa State head coach Wendy Dillinger's faith by scoring a goal and dishing out a pair of assists since being named a starter.
Johnson's recent accomplishments have eclipsed her freshman year of a lone goal, but adjustments leading toward these successes have been a long-standing commitment. Coming from her high school team to Iowa State has taken Johnson some getting used to.
"The competition level and the speed of play from high school to college is a lot different," Johnson said. "High school was a lot easier. Once you get to college you have to fight for your spot and compete every day."
Johnson also took note as a freshman of the higher expectation level held at Iowa State based on the potential of the team.
"The coaches are wanting us to work harder to get where we need to be and where we should be," said Johnson.
Johnson expressed that the confidence she had in high school seemed to be lacking during her freshman year at Iowa State. In the midst of her sophomore year she is gaining it back. Johnson attributed her confidence to more exposure from being on the team.
"It's probably just playing time, getting used to everything and having the experience I need," Johnson said.
Dillinger had also noticed a slow start to Johnson's career but is confident in the direction it's heading.
"It took a while for AJ to transition to the college game and it took some experimenting in various positions to identify the best position for her and for our team," Dillinger said. "She has gotten off to a nice start this season, and she has added explosiveness to our attack."
As if moving from high school to college wasn't enough, Johnson also had to adjust to a different playing style in Iowa from Mississippi.
"It is a lot more physical here and the coaches are expecting us to be a lot more physical in the game," said Johnson.
However, Johnson was able to find a comfort within the culture of Iowa.
"I know we're known as the hospitality state but the people here are really nice, welcoming and not judgmental at all," Johnson said.
Dillinger shared her excitement in continuing the season with Johnson.
"AJ is a tremendous athlete and she has a great deal of natural ability. What we are seeing is only the tip of her potential," said Dillinger.
Fans can look for Johnson's ascending confidence at 1 p.m. Sunday against Milwaukee at the ISU Soccer Complex.