Goalie Gussie Johns leads St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes girls’ lacrosse defense

April 11, 2013

Senior Carly Reed provided the offensive punch with four second-half goals as top-ranked St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes beat No. 2 Georgetown Visitation, 14-9, on Wednesday in an Independent School League AA lacrosse matchup, but the Saints remain undefeated thanks in large part to junior Gussie Johns’s work in net on the other end.

Former St. Stephen's/St. Agnes goalie Katie Wiseman, shown here in 2011 against Georgetown Visitation, now plays at Stanford, opening the job for heralded junior Gussie Johns. (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)
Former St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes goalie Katie Wiseman, shown here in 2011 against Georgetown Visitation, now plays at Stanford, opening the job for heralded junior Gussie Johns. (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

The University of Southern California recruit made 10 saves, including six in a back-and-forth first half, and allowed just three goals in the game’s final 30 minutes. Reed, the 2012 All-Met Player of the Year, wasn’t surprised that the Cubs had so much trouble solving Johns.

“She’s been playing really well in practice this week,” said Reed, who currently leads the area with 63 goals. “She got me really frustrated because she’s an awesome goalie.”

Johns has long held a reputation as one of the country’s top goalies in the Class of 2014. In August, Inside Lacrosse included her as the lone netminder on its list of the Top 25 rising juniors. She had scholarship offers from many of the top Division I programs and visited Northwestern, North Carolina, Virginia and Stanford among others, before committing to play for the Trojans late last spring.

But before this season Johns has always had to share the position on her high school team. She played mostly junior varsity as a freshman with two older players in front of her and last year, she split duties with Katie Wiseman, who now plays at Stanford.

In most games last spring, Wiseman and Johns each took a half, but a few times, Johns went to Coach Kathy Jenkins at halftime and told her to let Wiseman finish the game. That included last May’s Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I tournament title game when Wiseman went the distance in a 15-4 win over Bishop Ireton.

This year, Jenkins has made sure Johns knows it’s her job. She currently has three goalies on the junior varsity squad but opted to carry only Johns on the varsity roster.

“She’s worked so hard at it,” Jenkins said. “We feel like she deserves to play. … It’s been very exciting to watch what she can do with the opportunity.”

Johns’s athleticism in net sets her apart. She played long-stick defense on a boys’ team in middle school and is also a standout tennis and basketball player at the Alexandria private school, in addition to playing club ice hockey. Several times on Wednesday, she charged out of the crease to break up passes around the goal.

The Saints have several new players on their defense after graduating All-Met Paige Patterson (North Carolina), Emma Dyson (Bucknell) and Michelle Whitham (Iona) off last year’s 26-win squad, but they’ve been strong in allowing 5.5 goals per game.

“It’s nice just being able to get in there and not really worry about getting pulled or having to split time in practice,” Johns said. “Now in practice, I’m getting more and more shots from this great offense, and it’s just making me so much better and more prepared.”

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Eric Detweiler · April 11, 2013

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