STM girls soccer17679

Rick Danzl

Former St. Thomas More soccer coach James Johnson was announced as the new Parkland women's soccer coach on Saturday.

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CHAMPAIGN — If the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t canceled the high school girls’ soccer season, James Johnson might have spent Saturday coaching St. Thomas More in a Class 1A regional championship match.

Instead, the veteran leader of the Sabers was announced as the new women’s soccer coach at Parkland.

Johnson replaces Jason Gough, who was hired in December as the Cobras’ new coach, but never coached Parkland in a game. Tim Notz coached the Cobras the last three seasons, compiling a 17-28-3 record in that span. Parkland finished 3-11 last season. The Cobras most recently qualified for the NJCAA Division I national tournament in 2016, ultimately finishing that season 18-2.

Johnson leaves STM after nine successful seasons coaching both the Sabers’ boys’ and girls’ program. On the boys’ side, Johnson went 147-57-17 at STM, leading the Sabers to five 1A regional titles. His most recent boys’ team reached a sectional championship match in 2019. As the STM girls’ coach, Johnson guided the Sabers to a 111-66-11 record during his time on the sidelines, including a fourth-place state finish in 1A during the 2015 season, the program’s first-ever state tournament appearance. STM won eight regional titles under Johnson’s watch, including sectional championships in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

“I have full confidence in coach Johnson’s abilities to return our women’s soccer program to the successes we are seeking,” Parkland athletic director Brendan McHale said. “Parkland is very fortunate to have coach Johnson leading the way, both now and in the future.”

Johnson, a Peoria native who played on Peoria Notre Dame’s 2004 Class A state championship team as a player, went on to play collegiately at Loras College, a Division III program in Dubuque, Iowa, that reached the D-III Final Four in 2007 and 2008.

Johnson will retain current Parkland assistant coach Patrice Salerno and will bring on Dan Vogelsang to work with the Cobras’ goalies. Vogelsang coached the St. Joseph-Ogden boys’ soccer team the last four seasons.

“Returning to collegiate soccer as a coach is a dream come true, and I am humbled to be selected for this position,” Johnson said. “I am fortunate to have an excellent coaching staff already in place.”

Parkland returns leading scorer Maria Jorquera, who scored 10 goals last season, and features area players like Maddy Wade, The News-Gazette’s All-Area Player of the Year in 2019 from Mahomet-Seymour, and former Judah Christian products Michelle Miller and Sarah Perkinson.

“I cannot wait to get to work with the core of talented returning players and new recruits,” Johnson said. “My vision is to re-establish Parkland as a consistently competitive program through hard work, accountability to high standards and the establishment of a close-knit, family-like culture.”