Natalie Johnson downloaded an app on her phone to help her learn a new language. She will be spending part of her spring break overseas – her first voyage to a foreign country.
Havelock’s leading goal-scorer will showcase her soccer skills in Italy and Switzerland from April 16 to 24 as part of the Region III Olympic Development International team.
“This has been my dream, to play overseas,” said Johnson. “I’m just hoping to do well in front of the coaches.”
To make the illustrious squad, a team made up of girls from across the country, Johnson impressed at a tryout in Florida. She’s made the team, along with West Carteret’s Blair Pearce.
It’s a big step for Johnson, who has a goal of playing professional soccer overseas.
“This is a good start because I will be getting looked at by national coaches and will be training with some national coaches,” Johnson said. “They will see us and give us tips, and then maybe after college, they will hopefully remember me.”
Johnson, who signed to play college soccer at Old Dominion, said she is both excited and nervous about her new adventure.
Her trip will include training sessions and games against international opponents.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what it’s going to be like competing against European teams,” Johnson said. “It gives me a chance to make a national team or start playing at the next level or get looked at for overseas teams.
“I am hoping I can learn new tricks, new formations and new drills to bring back.”
Johnson’s long-term dream is to hear her name alongside United States soccer greats Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone.
It begins with this journey to Europe.
“That would definitely be the dream. That would be awesome,” Johnson said.
Johnson leads Havelock’s soccer team with five goals and five assists, and has 54 goals in her four-year varsity career. Havelock coach Amy McCutcheon is expecting Johnson to once again be the catalyst of the offense.
“I’m looking for leadership and to be strong on offense and be a team player,” McCutcheon said. “(Natalie) is really good at feeding everybody. She is good at moving the ball around.”
The Rams own a 4-2-1 overall record and a 2-2 record in the Coastal 3A Conference. Dominique Martinez has three goals. Lauren Seegel, Izabell Mingus, Taylor Self, Erica Quinn and Alexis Delacruz also have goals this season.
“I think we are capable of winning conference. It’s there. We just have to want it and have the desire,” Johnson said.
The defense has given up 13 goals in seven games behind the play of Emily Spink, Janae Mays, Aliyah Cruz and Kaitlyn Tripp. Amanda Alexander is Havelock’s senior goalkeeper.
“This team is working well together,” McCutcheon said. “We are learning what works for us and we are working hard. We are fighting strong this year. This team can win conference, definitely. That’s what I am expecting.”
Havelock plays at West Carteret on Thursday.
Adam Thompson is a reporter for the Sun Journal.