One inch taller, ten pounds heavier, and a captain’s armband to boot. It’s fair to say Axel Johansson’s sophomore season was all about growth. The highly rated defender from Jävrebyn, Sweden came into the season full of confidence and ready to go after some stellar freshman performances. He had a years-experience in the Appalachian Athletic Conference under his belt, and knew what was required of him and the team. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving at Bluefield in August, Axel developed an injury which would rule him out of action until the middle of September.
It took the youngster a couple of games to get back into his stride, and boy was it worth the wait. Axel anchored the Rams defence to consecutive conference wins (2-1 at home vs. Columbia International, and a 1-0 road win at Kentucky Christian), including the team’s first AAC shutout of the year.
“Our team is pretty good, but we had a young and fairly inexperienced squad this season, where we often struggled mentally, losing games which we could have won” said, Axel. It’s the fine margins that separates the good from the great. The Ram’s young squad will be raring to go in 2020 using 2019 as a steep learning curve. Going 3-12 in a season is never fun, but the Ram’s showed much heart in their performances, dropping 3 games by just one goal. They were always in the game, bar one or two one-sided contests, so with a little “rub of the green”, more experience and mental toughness, 2020 could be the year of the Ram.
One a personal level, Axel had a great season, playing with confidence and making many crucial blocks/tackles. The confidence came from the fact he was promoted to captain in just his second season at the college, and having been out of practice for the first month, spoke volumes for how much he is valued at Bluefield.
That sense of feeling is echoed in his coach’s (Head coach, Justin Morton) thoughts, too; “Another big year for Axel. He was named unanimously by the coaching staff and his peers as a captain for the 2019 campaign. He was a strong leader on and off the field for a very young Bluefield team, the youngest we have seen for years. However, with a disappointing season in terms of results behind us, we now look forward to building off a good core of returners who have gained a large amount of experience. They’ll be looking to make an impact next season in a very tough conference. We are just a couple key signings away from making history with Axel, and Bluefield College.”
Axel has featured for the Ram’s 23 times during his first two seasons in the USA. The towering presence is a calm influence for his teammates, and a daunting prospect for opposing strikers. Deceptively quick across the grass, Axel poses numerous problems for the attackers he comes up against.
The chapter of the book on sophomore season appears closed for both Axel and the Ram’s as they both look ahead to future successes. Johansson will spend the festive period with his family and friends in his native Jävrebyn, recharging the batteries, ready to hit-the-ground-running this Spring, to set himself and the Ram’s up for an exciting junior season, come Fall 2020.