Thursday, September 27, 2007


Roller to Coach McLean Program on the Upswing
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 28, 2007; Page E10

Kevin Roller was hired yesterday as the boys' basketball coach at McLean High School.

Roller, a 39-year-old government contractor, spent the past eight seasons as the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant at Marshall.

Roller will replace Drew Murphy, who posted a 35-76 record in five seasons at McLean before leaving last month for a teaching position and assistant coaching job at Centreville.

McLean finished 13-10 last season, the program's first winning season since it last reached the Northern Region tournament in 1999.

Girls' Soccer

Senior Forward Helps Maintain Spalding's 48-Game Streak
Spalding 1, Pallotti 1
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, September 27, 2007; Page AA15

The Spalding girls' soccer team huddled around All-Met senior forward Christine Nairn and sang for her on her birthday as she handed out cupcakes to teammates still panting from the double-overtime tie, 1-1, at Pallotti on Tuesday.

"I know she'll always be there," Spalding junior forward Erica Page said of Nairn.
Nairn is headed to Penn State; she also has played for the under-17 U.S. team. The goal in the 62nd minute was her 16th this season and 59th of her career.

The goal also helped keep intact what is known on the team as "the streak": Second-ranked Spalding (9-0-1 overall, 2-0-1 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland) has not lost in 48 games.

Since losing to O'Connell, 2-0, in September 2005, the Cavaliers have posted a 43-0-5 record and have outscored opponents 145-13.

"I think [the streak] is in the back of our minds all the time," said Nairn, whose left-footed penalty kick tied the game late in the second half. "We are taking each game as it is and playing our hearts out, and if the streak stays alive, then good for us. But if it doesn't, oh well."

Spalding Coach Bob Dieterle is taking the same no-worries attitude toward the ongoing streak.
"We don't talk about it at all," Dieterle said. "I think they know the challenge for them is, when you are a highly ranked team, everyone comes at you and gives you their best game."

Spalding outshot Pallotti 20-9.

Yet the Panthers (5-0-1, 2-0-1) took the lead after a penalty kick by sophomore forward Jackie Henahan in the 53rd minute.

Pallotti, which fell to Spalding in last season's IAAM A final, was expectedly feisty.
"Supposedly, we are the highlight of everyone's season, but every game is our highlight," said Nairn. "We want to beat everybody and show everybody that we are the best."

Henahan's penalty kick was the first goal the Cavaliers have relinquished this season and one of few All-Met goalkeeper Karen Blocker has allowed in her career.

"You never forget the feeling of a goal. Especially" a penalty kick, said Blocker, who has recorded 360 saves and 49 shutouts in her career. Both are school records.

"I'm so proud of my team for rallying back and not putting their head down. It's always disappointing not to get the win, but we came back strong and got the tie."

Girls Soccer

St. John's Soccer Star 'Leads by Example'
McCarty Motivates Team and Sacrifices for It
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, September 27, 2007; Page DZ09

On a hill overlooking the turf field at St. John's College High School in the District, there is a single tree under which Vince McCarty finds shade during his daughter's soccer games. From that spot, McCarty, the team's statistician, has a view of the entire field.

It's the spot from where he has recorded the majority of two-time All-Met senior forward Tiffany McCarty's 167 career goals and 52 career assists. And it is the spot where he can watch his daughter make history this fall as she chases the Washington area's record for career goals.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) has McCarty as the career scoring leader in the District and Virginia. She needs 22 goals to pass former McDonogh star Laurie Schwoy, who scored 188 goals from 1992 through 1995, setting Maryland's mark.
McCarty has recorded 19 goals in 12 games this season for an average of 1.6 goals per game. With 10 regular season games and a few anticipated playoff games ahead, "It's going to be hard," said Cadets Coach Manny Villafana.

"She has basically sacrificed a lot of goals this year that she could have had to basically help the other kids score," he said. "She knows how important it is for us to be ready when she is not here next year."

The 16-year-old Florida State-bound senior has also scored goals as a member of the U.S. under-17 women's national team and the Washington Freedom. She helped lift the Freedom, the area's semipro women's soccer team, to a W-League championship in the summer. "She was playing with women 25 and 35-years-old," Villafana said.

But McCarty, who has led the Cadets to three consecutive 20-win seasons, is interested in more than finishing her career as a national team star and semipro standout with scoring records.

"If I don't score 200 goals and I win a championship, that's fine with me," said McCarty, whose squad fell to Bishop O'Connell in a penalty kick shootout in last season's WCAC title game.

An unexpected 1-0 loss to Pennsylvania's Villa Joseph Marie on Sept. 16 knocked St. John's (11-1) off the top of the national rankings and robbed McCarty of her goal of an undefeated season. But it also injected a new attitude into McCarty and the talented Cadets, whose roster includes 11 Olympic Development Program players and six division I college recruits.
"She really gave us some motivational speeches letting us know that we have to step it up and we can't let this happen again," said senior defender Zania Barnum, who has committed to George Mason. "She encourages us a lot of and she leads by example."

In the three games following the loss, McCarty has recorded eight goals on 16 shots to help the Cadets outscore their opponents 15-3.

"After the [loss], we realized that it was a wake-up call," McCarty said. "But, we have to learn from it. We can't just say that it's a wake-up call and not do anything. Our goals are the same. The only thing that's changed is that we aren't undefeated. We are trying to win a WCAC championship."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Girls' Soccer
Tie Keeps Spalding's Streak Going

Spalding 1, Pallotti 1
By B.J. Koubaroulis

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; Page E05

Second-ranked Spalding didn't get the win yesterday at Pallotti, but the Cavaliers didn't lose, either. Hence, what has become known as "the streak" at Spalding remains intact.

A 1-1 tie at Pallotti pushed
Spalding's unbeaten mark to
48 consecutive games.

Since losing to O'Connell, 2-0, in September 2005, the Cavaliers (9-0-1, 2-0-1 IAAM) have posted a 43-0-5 record and have outscored opponents 145-13. Spalding compiled 18 wins before defeating Pallotti (5-0-2, 2-0-2), 1-0, in last season's IAAM A division championship game and showed yesterday it is still an offensive machine by outshooting the Panthers 20-9.

Spalding's offense, which is averaging 3.9 goals per game, is led by forwards Christine Nairn (Penn State), a senior, and junior Erica Page.

Nairn, an All-Met and U.S. under-17 women's national team member, this season has 16 goals and five assists. She has 59 goals and 29 assists for her career, both school records.
Nairn connected on a left-footed penalty kick in the 62nd minute to force the tie and save the streak.

"I think [the streak] is in the back of our minds all the time," Nairn said. "We are taking each game as it is and playing our hearts out, and if the streak stays alive, then good for us. But if it doesn't, oh well."

Page, who has added 10 goals this season, is second on the school's all-time scoring list with 31. The tandem has combined for 25 game-winning goals.

"Every team is going to bring it against you, so you have to bring it every game," said Page, whose offense has attempted 57 corners and allowed opponents 12 this season.

All-Met goalkeeper Karen Blocker has recorded 28 of her career 360 saves and nine of her 49 career shutouts this season. Both are school records.

"You never forget the feeling of a goal. Especially a" penalty kick, said Blocker, who relinquished Spalding's first goal of the season when Pallotti's Jackie Henahan converted a penalty kick in the 53rd minute. "I'm so proud of my team for rallying back and not putting their head down. It's always disappointing not to get the win, but we came back strong and got the tie."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With Heintz Limited, Panthers Still Thrive

Potomac School 3, Georgetown Visitation 0
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; E07

It may not show in the stats, but Potomac School senior Natalie Heintz was the key factor for the No. 10 Panthers in the second half of their 3-1 girls' soccer victory over Georgetown Visitation yesterday in McLean.

Heintz had a goal early in the first half but left the game shortly thereafter with an ankle injury. She spent the rest of the half on the sideline with her sprained right ankle elevated. Potomac School (2-0, 1-0 Independent School League) did not get off a shot in her absence.

Heintz returned in the second half, and Potomac School added two more goals. She didn't play a big role in either score, but that's not the point.

"The level of play doesn't really go down [when Heintz is off the field], it's just the confidence of the girls," Potomac School Coach Ross McEwen said. "She makes everybody a better player."

Heintz scored her third goal of the season on a right-footed 15-yard bender that made it 1-0. Eight minutes into the second half, the Cubs (4-1, 1-1) tied the game when Alex Wiggins scored her fourth goal of the year off Megan O'Conor's corner kick.

Potomac School junior midfielder Cassidy Banks scored the eventual game-winner on a 30-yard free kick in the 69th minute, and freshman Campbell Millar buried a five-yard shot off a touch pass from sophomore Sarah Hunt in the 78th minute.

When Heintz was out, Banks -- who plays club soccer with Heintz -- drew the defensive attention that the senior usually attracts.

"Since we play the same style of play, we know where each other is going to be every time," Banks said. "So when she's not in, it kind of breaks down."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Perry And Edison Rush Past S. County
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, September 15, 2007; E12

Edison senior running back Kevin Carter smiled as he held his open palm over senior teammate Akeen Perry's head to indicate Perry's diminutive stature. But the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Perry loomed large in Edison's 46-7 win at South County last night.

"It's fun to see the little guy break some runs," Carter said of Perry, who rushed for 158 of his game-high 220 yards in the second half to break open a 7-7 tie at halftime.
Perry scored on a 24-yard scramble that gave Edison (2-1) a 16-7 lead with 2 minutes 12 seconds left in the third quarter and sparked a rushing attack that gained 377 of its 448 yards on the ground in the second half.

South County dropped to 1-2.

"This year, my role has been reduced, so when I make a block and he runs up the sideline, it's just as good as breaking off a 70-yarder," Carter said of Perry. "It's fun blocking for him."
Carter finished with 114 yards and scored on runs of 30 and 11 yards, both in the second half, to help Edison take advantage of a five South County turnovers, including four lost fumbles and
one interception.

Four Eagles rushed for at least 40 yards to help Edison avenge one of its losses from last season's 11-3 run to the Division 5 state final.

"I remember that play very vividly," Carter said of the failed two-point conversion that gave South County the 23-21 win over Edison in last season's matchup. "It was heartbreaking."

Last night, following a seven-yard touchdown run by South County senior quarterback Ryan Heyrana, Edison senior quarterback Ben Barber (4 of 11 for 23 yards) hit junior wide receiver Corey Washington for a 14-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7 before the half.

After rushing for 55 yards in the first half, the Stallions managed just 46 yards of offense in the second half and the Eagles held Aaron Andrews and Heyrana -- who split time at quarterback -- to a combined 46 yards in the air.

Edison sophomore Angus Harper (6 carries, 67 yards) broke a 45-yard run with 3:30 left in the fourth for a 39-7 lead, and junior Dominico Tucker (2 carries, 41 yards) found the goal from 34 yards out to finish off the Eagles' 39-point second-half explosion.

"We can't just take this game and get a big head," Perry said.

Edison 46, South County 7 Just Kickin' It: Edison senior place kicker Paul Bergstrom connected on five extra points and a 25-yard field goal. The only missed opportunity came on a bad snap that Edison holder Branden Suggs ran in for a two-point conversion for an 18-7 lead in the third quarter. Penalized: Edison drew 11 flags for a loss of 93 yards.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Senior-Laden Falcons Move In Harmony in Defeat of Panthers
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 14, 2007; E09

Hovering above a dimly lit field at Paul VI Catholic last night, a group of six bats used an instinctual and inaudible communication to perform a series of swooping dives that drew the eye of several spectators. On the field, the communication that the fifth-ranked Good Counsel girls' soccer team used to take a 3-0 victory was almost as precise and mesmerizing.

A flurry of hand gestures, strange noises and, at times, mere eye contact propelled the Falcons' 3-5-2 setup to their third consecutive victory and second consecutive shutout this season. Paul VI, playing its sixth game in seven days, dropped to 2-4-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

"We have really good chemistry together," said Good Counsel midfielder Katie Pecoraro, one of 11 Falcons seniors. "We've been together for four years and that helps as far as knowing where each other is going to be."

Pecoraro recorded her sixth goal and fourth assist of the season in an offense that outshot the Panthers 22-2 and "dominated the midfield," Falcons Coach Jim Bruno said.

Alex Stadnik headed Pecoraro's left-footed corner kick offering into the front left corner of the goal to give Good Counsel (5-2, 4-1) a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. Junior defender Meghan McTavish's free kick from 30 yards deflected off of two teammates' heads before senior midfielder Lauren Kelly settled it inside the penalty box and buried a right-footed boot for a 2-0 lead in the 25th minute.

Florida-bound senior midfielder Sarah Chapman took three of her team-high five shots on goal in the first half and was one of nine Falcons that recorded at least one shot on goal in the contest.

"Our outside midfielders are taking shots, even our defenders," Chapman said. "It makes the other team not know who is going to score. Everyone can score."

Pecoraro struck again in the 66th minute with a left-footed blast from 25 yards that found the back right corner of the goal for a 3-0 lead.

"There was a space and I'm left-footed, so I just went to left and shot it," Pecoraro said.
No. 5 Good Counsel 3 Paul VI Catholic 0 An Even Split: Panthers goalkeepers Melissa Westphal (nine saves) and Erin McDonald (four saves) have combined for 63 saves this season. Plenty of Margin: Good Counsel is averaging 3.7 goals per game and allowing 1.1 goals per game.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Skyline Returns Home, Comes Back a Winner
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; E08

Coach Heath Gilbert posted a 21-19 record in four seasons at Warren County before leaving to start the program at Skyline -- the new Front Royal high school that draws much of its enrollment from Warren County.

On Friday, before a crowd of about 6,000, Gilbert and 15 players who suited up for Warren County last season returned to their former field and rode 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior running back Nathaniel Jackson's 266-yard, four-touchdown performance to a 39-0 rout of their new rival.

"I didn't know what it was going to feel like," Gilbert said. "We were going into it as just another game, but as the week got going and, as we got to game time especially, we could feel it. We can't lose to someone in our back yard."

The Hawks improved to 2-0, and Warren County was shut out for the second consecutive game.
The defense, led by Tyler Settle's interception, held Warren County to 122 yards, and the Hawks' special teams chipped in nine points with a field goal, a safety and four extra points. Jackson is averaging 16 yards per carry for an offense that has outscored its first two opponents 81-12.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Park View Knocks off Jefferson
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to the Washington Post
Saturday, September 8, 2007

Just a week before taking on a powerful Handley team and West Virginia-bound quarterback J.J. Dorsey, Park View’s young defense got a boost of confidence.

Defensive backs Brandon Absher, Marcus Freeman, Ryan Pick and Josh Jones each made interceptions as Park View won 35-22 at Jefferson (W.Va.).

"Having our inexperienced defensive backs have four interceptions before we play one of the best [quarterbacks] in the state is good for their confidence," said Park View Coach Andy Hill, whose team improved to 2-0. Jefferson is 0-3.

For the second consecutive week, Park View quarterback C.J. Leizear threw for more than 250 yards and for multiple touchdowns, totaling 305 passing yards and four touchdowns. Leizear also threw five interceptions, but, "He still led us up and down the field routinely,” Hill said.

St. John's Seizes Chance Late in Game
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 9, 2007; D09

OWINGS MILLS, Md., Sept. 8 -- After McDonogh sophomore Lexi Blight's improbable shot from midfield sneaked over the end line for a goal, St. John's (D.C.) Coach Manny Villafana was nervous for the first time this season.

"I bet that, whether it's one of my girls or a McDonogh girl, if they try to do that a thousand times in practice, it would never happen," Villafana said of the towering shot that gave McDonogh (2-2-2) the lead midway through the second half of yesterday's McDonogh Invitational girls' soccer tournament. "When you are ahead 1-0 for so long and all of the sudden you are behind 2-1, a lot of teams can tank."

But All-Met senior forward Tiffany McCarty, who took five of top-ranked St. John's 11 shots on goal in the Cadets' 3-2, come-from-behind victory, saw the opportunity for her squad to learn something as it trailed for the first time this season.

"We are more comfortable now with each other," McCarty said. "It gives us a lot of confidence."
McCarty settled a corner kick from junior defender Dana Palmiotto and gave junior midfielder Remi Gibba enough time to blast a shot from 10 yards to tie the contest at 2 in the 70th minute. She found junior midfielder Liz Seligman 13 minutes later for the win as she raced up the left side and delivered a left-footed cross.

"There was an opening and [Tiffany] hit the ball and I had space and time, but I didn't think I was going to make the goal," said Seligman, who finished the game-winner on a right-footed dart from five yards.

The win over McDonogh capped a two-day, three-game tournament for St. John's (6-0). The field included four nationally ranked opponents, including the Cadets, ranked No. 1 in the nation by

"Today we had everything to lose," Villafana said. "If we lost, we were going to drop [in the rankings], whether we were in the championship game or not."

McCarty gave St. John's the 1-0 lead in the 38th minute when she settled a loft from junior midfielder Krissia Vasquez and delivered a right-footed boot from six yards. It was her fourth goal of the tournament, seventh of the season and 159th of her career.

A left-footed shot from 15 yards by McDonogh junior forward Colby Rhea evened the score in the 51st minute before the Eagles took the 2-1 lead on Blight's towering shot.

McDonogh Invitational Three for Me: St. John's has scored three goals in eight of nine games, including three preseason scrimmages. Eight is Enough: In yesterday's semifinals, O'Connell (4-2) dropped in the eighth round of penalty kicks to McDonogh after a 2-2 game.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dolla Bill Yall!! I wish he was as good at scoring TD's as he is at playing dress up...

Check Out my In-Game Blog at Sports Illustrated
Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphis click

On Sunday Sept. 8 at 1 p.m., I'll be blogging about the Washington Redskins for Check it

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

McCarty, St. John's Have A Lofty Station to Protect
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; E10

St. John's (D.C.) girls' soccer coach Manny Villafana has an uncommon way of judging just how good his college-bound soccer stars really are.

"You can always tell how good a player is by who [the college] rolls out when they go to visit," Villafana said.

Two-time All-Met and all-American senior forward Tiffany McCarty passed Villafana's test after legendary football coach Joe Paterno greeted her at Penn State and Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden did his part to help sway the 16-year-old into committing to the Seminoles this summer.

McCarty is a member of U.S. under-17 women's national team and helped the semipro Washington Freedom to the W-League title this summer. In high school play, she has 153 goals and 59 assists in three seasons, leading the Cadets to three consecutive 20-win seasons and a No. 1 national ranking entering this season.

"In the history of our school, we are the first team ever to be ranked number one in the country, so that's a big burden on our shoulders," McCarty said. "We don't want to be known as the team that thinks they are number one and not perform."

McCarty's goals: go undefeated in the regular season, win this weekend's McDonogh tournament and help St. John's regain the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. The Cadets won the WCAC in 2005, but lost to O'Connell on penalty kicks in last season's final.

McCarty will have the help of 20 returning teammates and all but one starter from a squad that went 22-5 in 2006. Eleven players are members of the Olympic Development Program and two of the six players who are expected to sign with division I programs are not even starters.
"I want to win a WCAC championship," McCarty said. "It's my senior year, I have nothing else to give."

From The Washington Post
By B.J. Koubaroulis

Senior forward Brook Chang (Cornell) and junior midfielder Danielle Corey combined for 10 goals while Brandy Lacoe (George Washington), Greer Drumm ond (James Madison) and Katie Vogel led the defense in defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion O'Connell's first three wins, all shutouts. . . .

Good Counsel took 10 shots on goal in the first half of its 3-0 loss to St. John's (D.C.) last week, but the preseason loss of the Falcons' top defender, senior Ariana Cook (anterior cruciate ligament), proved to be too much to overcome. . . .

In five games this season, including three preseason scrimmages, St. John's (D.C.) has outscored opponents 14-1 with four shutouts. . . .

Senior forward Erica Suter returns for Maryland 3A champion River Hill, which went 20-0 last season and won its fifth title since the school opened 12 years ago. . . .

While junior forward Julia Roberts, a two-time all-state selection, will be the focal point of Urbana's offense, she'll have help from Pittsburgh-bound midfielder Katie Ruhe, who returns after sitting out last season with an injury. But the sixth-ranked Hawks are packed in a tough 3A West Region with No. 7 Bethesda-Chevy Chase and No. 8 Tuscarora, which has the program's all-time leading scorer back in senior forward Courtney Yee (39 goals, 17 assists). "Coming out of the region will be an extraordinary accomplishment, and that team should be the favorite to win it all," Tuscarora Coach Mark Walcott said. . . .

No. 10 Eleanor Roosevelt has eight starters back, including sophomore midfielder Briana Hovington and senior forward Amanda King, and 75 percent of its defense. But the defending Prince George's County and 4A South Region champion will look to fill a major void left by All-Met goalkeeper Wendy Balogun, who allowed just five goals last season and now plays for Maryland. . . .

Because of low enrollment, Carroll-- which was slated to play a full WCAC varsity schedule -- has forfeited all of its games and will field only a junior varsity team this season. "It was a combination of the numbers and the age of [the players]," Carroll Athletic Director George Leftwitch said. "This is not a forgiving league."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vikings Deal Former Coach a Defeat
Loudoun Valley 3, Heritage 0
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 2, 2007; LZ08

Each time she sets foot into Loudoun Valley's gymnasium, the barrage of handshakes and smiles turns into a kind of homecoming for Carmel Keilty. That's the treatment expected for the coach who made the Vikings volleyball team into a county powerhouse before she became the head coach at Heritage.
But Thursday, as Loudoun Valley ran through Heritage, 25-13, 25-16, 25-19, it was a reunion of sorts for all.
"It was comfortable," said Vikings senior outside hitter Cindy Murphy, who had match highs with 13 kills and nine digs.
This season, Loudoun Valley will compete in the AAA Cedar Run District -- its third district in four years after moving from the AA Dulles District into the AAA National District in 2005.
"You just have to get used to the long bus rides and teams you've never seen before," Murphy said. "We've had to adjust a lot."
Against a familiar opponent in Thursday's home opener, the Vikings appeared solid and dealt their former Dulles District rival its first loss of the season.
After taking the 16-12 lead, Loudoun Valley (2-0) went on a 9-2 run to close out the first game in a 12-point victory -- its biggest lead of the night.
Sophomore middle-hitter Lindsey Phipps's block on Heritage junior Ashley Scott's shot gave the Vikings the 20-13 lead and sparked a 5-3 run to close out the second game.
"Whenever we get a good play, we always get up and really excited, and that just makes us play harder, and we really want it after that," said Phipps, who spiked the game-winner in the second match.
Loudoun Valley senior outside-hitter Morgan Maddux (12 digs) started off the third game with one of her eight kills before miscues gave Heritage (3-1) its only lead of the night, 3-2. Sophomore Nicole Bennett (14 assists) and junior Ally Blaine (18 assists), both setters, paced the Vikings through a third game that had two ties and one lead change.
After Loudoun Valley took an 18-16 lead in the third game, Murphy tallied three kills to push the Vikings to the match victory.
"That's her senior leadership kicking in," said Vikings Coach Laird Johnson. "We went to her when we needed something."
Heritage senior Gaby Galvan, freshman Lian Bernett and Scott each tallied four kills.
"They weren't the same team that played in the first three matches," said Keilty. "They will bounce back."
Junior outside hitter Danielle Caputo, who was an all-district and all-region selection last season at Sherando, transferred to Loudoun Valley. The move puts Murphy, a left-handed outside hitter who has played out of her natural position for the past two seasons, back on the right. "That's just opened up so many things up for us," Johnson said.