When Lucy Johnson arrived for football season in January, she and Nicole Douglas formed a friendship that paid off

Photo by Isabel Han
| The state press

ASU junior striker Nicole Douglas (9) defends the ball at ASU’s Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in front of Weber State on Sunday, September 16, 2018.

By Dylan Wilhelm | 02/18/2021 4:08 pm

On a college soccer team, it’s not uncommon for people from all over the world to fill a team. There are 11 international players on the ASU squad, including players from Canada, Japan and many other countries.

Two English players, junior striker Nicole Douglas and new defender Lucy Johnson, have built a strong friendship and bond at ASU that is already paying off on and off the field.

Two years and two hours apart by car, Johnson and Douglas never played with or against each other in England. That didn’t stop the two from immediately forming a friendship when Johnson arrived on campus for their first season in January.

Douglas said she felt she had known Johnson “for years” and Johnson described Douglas as “almost like a big, annoying sister in the best possible way”.

“We just love each other on and off the pitch,” said Johnson.

Each player has experience with professional clubs in England, with Douglas spending time with Chelsea Ladies Football Club and Johnson playing with Leicester City WFC. Both players have also spent time in the English youth team.

Douglas said they grew up under the same coaches in similar systems in their youth academies and national teams. These similarities have already benefited the two players, who have already noticed four games in the season how the others play on the pitch.

“We both have similar thought processes during the game,” said Douglas. “It’s that kind of connection because we’re so used to playing a certain style in England.”

Head coach Graham Winkworth is not only from England, but also from Reading, England, and forms a unique bond between the three.

“Before they are good football players, they are both enjoyable people,” said Winkworth of Douglas and Johnson.

Winkworth said he got on very well with the two of them and would be comfortable “tearing them up”. It may seem harsh, but he explains it’s a way of showing that he cares about them, trusts them, and wants them to succeed.

“The day I stop making fun of Johno and Dougie is the day they should worry,” said Winkworth, laughing with Johnson. “They know that they are important to me and that they value them very much.”

Both players started the 2021 season very well in four games. Douglas scored five goals and two assists, and Johnson made two assists, including one for Douglas’ first goal of the season.

ASU benefits from the advantages of a strong game not only from these two players, but across the board and starts the season 4-0 for the second time in a row.

ASU is now preparing for the conference game and will face USC on February 26th at 7pm MST in Tempe.

Reach the reporter at dmwilhe1@asu.edu and follow @ dmwilhelm225 on Twitter.

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