In most walks of life, 29 years of age is considered quite young.
Not in professional soccer.
Players nearing 30 typically are entering the twilight of their careers.
So, when Women's Professional Soccer announced this past week that, like its predecessor the Women's United Soccer Association, it officially was folding after just three seasons, 2000 Springbrook High School graduate Joanna Lohman could easily have shut the door on an illustrious, 11-year professional soccer career.
But Lohman said the competitive fire within — the desire to continue challenging herself and testing her limits — wouldn't allow her to quit.
Instead, when her season with Barcelona's Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol in Spain finished at the end of April, Lohman signed with the D.C. United Women, intent on continuing to play and promote the sport to which she has devoted her life.
There's no better place to do that, Lohman said, than the soccer-rich Washington, D.C., area. The former Washington Freedom midfielder/defender has played elsewhere since 2009.
“I'm not getting younger but I still want to test myself, that's who I am as a person. As long as I can keep up...” Lohman said. “Before the WPS folded, I was signed with Sky Blue [in New Jersey], so mentally that's where I thought I was going to be for six months of the summer. My family still lives in D.C. and I have a strong connection to my high school friends so I have a strong affinity toward [the D.C. area] so it's great to be back here.”
Lohman said women's soccer is important because it promotes a healthy lifestyle in addition to helping build confidence, leadership skills and determination among young females.
In 2010, Lohman and United Women teammate Lianne Sanderson co-founded JoLi Academy to help promote women's soccer in developing nations. The two will host a party for supporters after the United's July 7 home game.
Lohman is one of four Montgomery County natives on the United roster. She joins second-year midfielders Danielle Malagari of Germantown and Bethesda's Jerica DeWolfe, as well as recent signee, former Northwest track and field star Britt Eckerstrom, a goalie who just finished her freshman year with Penn State University women's team.
The United Women, who recently added former Freedom fan favorite and current U.S. National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn, opened their second season in the United Soccer Leagues' W-League with a 2-0 win against visiting Virginia Beach on Saturday at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds.
Last year's second-leading scorer, Hayley Siegel of Ellicott City, also returned this year.
The United Women will host the Northern Virginia Majestics at 7:45 p.m. Sunday in their next match.
The W-League is the country's premier amateur league. Without the WPS, it is the highest level of women's soccer in the U.S. outside the national team, for which Lohman has made seven appearances. It consists of 30 teams in three conferences and five divisions. In its inaugural season, United missed the playoffs by a few points, but Lohman said she is certain this year's squad is capable of doing much more than just making the postseason.
Second-year United Women coach Mike Jorden said he built his team around “soccer players.”
Lohman, a technically savvy cerebral player, fits right into that mold. Her high-level experience, he added, is invaluable.
“We like good soccer players, good technical players and we build around that type of possession-oriented, one- or two-touch passing and movement off the ball,” Jorden said. “We want to be good decision makers. We're expecting a lot from Joanna. She is a smart player and makes everyone on the team better. The younger players have really benefitted from training with her.”
For more information on JoLi Academy visit www.joliacademy.com.