Club Women

January 8, 2014

#LMRanks: Clutch Reputation Precedes JMU's Julia Joo

by J. Jude Hazard | | Twitter | College Preview 2014

A clutch performer for James Madison in its first WCLA DII title last spring, Julie Joo is LM's Preseason POY for this year. (Cecil Copeland)

Julia Joo’s storybook season was slipping away.

James Madison Club, playing in its first WCLA national tournament ever, appeared to have Loyola Club on the ropes in the semifinal game in Colorado Springs, Colo. Two straight Joo goals put the Dukes ahead 12-7 with a little more than 10 minutes left to play.

Get past Loyola, and it was onto the finals.

But the Greyhounds scored five unanswered goals to tie the game 12-12 with 3:46 remaining and had the momentum firmly in their corner. The teams then traded goals, and the score was knotted at 13 with less than a minute to play. It looked like the game was heading to overtime, and then it happened—a foul in the critical scoring area.

And then there was Joo, lined up at the 8-meter hash with a free position and the game on the line.

“When I saw it was her, I knew she was going to score that goal and we were going to win,” James Madison midfielder Jennifer Perry said. “When she has the ball, I’m always confident.”

The whistle blew and Joo drove toward the cage, but the defense collapsed and there was no room for a shot. She backed out and caught the Loyola defenders flat-footed, found an open lane and drove in again, sending the ball into the lower right corner of the goal with 38 seconds remaining.

James held on to beat Loyola and defeated Utah in the championship game to capture its first-ever WCLA Division II championship.

“I clearly remember lining up on the 8 and not being that scared,” Joo said. “After I scored the goal, I was just so excited. It was such a big moment for the team. I wasn’t worried about them coming back, because I know my team. When we have a big momentum strike like that, we’re not going to get stopped.”

Joo scored five goals in that semifinal game and notched three goals on four shots in the championship game against Utah. The Scaggsville, Md., native hopes to carry that momentum into the 2014 season. She is Lacrosse Magazine’s WCLA Division II Preseason Player of the Year.

A senior attacker, Joo preaches patience with the ball. She does not want squander the defense and midfielders’ hard work by taking bad shots. She wants to be absolutely sure she is going to score before the ball leaves her stick.

“I realize how difficult it is to get the ball to our end, so I really try to control the ball and not make any stupid mistakes, because I know the midfield and defense are busting their butts,” she said. “I don’t want to be selfish or be premature in any of my actions. That won’t pay off.”

According to Perry, Joo tends to be quiet and mild mannered. But when she does speak, everyone knows to listen.

“She really is intelligent. She knows what to do with the ball when she gets it. She makes things happen,” Perry said. “She sees the opportunity and she always capitalizes on it.”

This story originally appears in the January 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

An ACL tear during winter ball of her junior season in high school derailed Joo’s thoughts of playing varsity lacrosse in college. She said she played scared her senior year and didn’t fully recover mentally until her freshman season at James Madison.

“After going through that injury in high school and how long it took me to get back to 100 percent both physically and mentally on the field, I do try to really appreciate even being able to play. I hope that does reflect in how I play,” Joo said. “I really want to cherish my last year in all ways possible.”

Off the field, Joo is an accounting major and has lined up a summer internship with an accounting firm. She is at JMU for a fifth year to get a master’s degree and plans to become a certified public accountant.

The Dukes also are active in the Harrisonburg, Va., community. Joo enjoys volunteering for a nonprofit organization that hosts dance parties for adults with developmental disabilities.

“It was such a great experience,” she said. “I’ve been going to those dances whenever they hold them now just because my first experience was so great.”

James Madison returns most of its key contributors, including a large contingent of upperclassmen with aspirations of a title repeat.

“We’re playing the best that we’ve ever played since I’ve been on the team. It is great for me to see just how much our team has grown since my freshman year, so I really just want our team to keep practicing hard, keep playing well,” Joo said. “The sisterhood, the chemistry between all of us on and off this field is something I’m really going to miss.” 

Fan Vote

Read the full breakdown of the WCLA DII Preseason POY Finalists

Molly Burnett, Loyola, G - 70%
Julia Joo, James Madison, A - 18%
Traci Shurtleff, Utah, D - 8%
Jaycee Slack, Gonzaga, M - 1%
Desiree Messina, Oakland, A - 1% 

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