BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — Former Princeton University goalie Ashleigh Johnson rates among the best athletes to play women’s water polo on the collegiate level – and earned a spot on the 50 Greatest New Jersey College Women’s Athletes per a list compiled by by sportswriter Jerry Carino for Gannett N.J. newspapers.
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A native of Florida, Johnson – who comes in at No. 3 on the list behind No. 1/former Montclair State University women’s basketball star Carol Blazejowski (3,199 points; 31.7 points per game, including 38.6 per game as a senior in 1978; led her team to the AIAW Final Four; inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994) and Rutgers University women’s basketball athlete Sue Wicks (1988 National Women’s Player of the Year; three-time All-America selection) – is the lone women’s water polo player to earn a spot.
A 2017 Princeton University alumna, Johnson competed for Ethnikos of the Greek league this year and earned a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Sports category. She is among only two Tigers’ athletes ever to win an Olympic gold medal (in 2016 and 2021) and then come back to compete at Princeton (former United States Senator/men’s basketball player Bill Bradley was the other).
The recipient of the C. Otto von Kienbusch and Cutino Awards during her senior season in 2017, she was the first player in Princeton women’s water polo history to be named first team All-America and third ever to be selected All-America in each of her four seasons. Johnson finished her Princeton career with a 100-17 record, along with a school-record 1,362 saves and a .693 save percentage. She was a 19-time CWPA Defensive Player of the Week award winner, a four-time first-team all-conference player and the CWPA Player of the Year.
Johnson’s appearance at the Olympics marked the fourth time in the past four games that the United States’ cage was defended by a Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) alumna as University of Michigan graduate and CWPA Hall of Fame member Betsey Armstrong was the goalie for the 2008 Silver Medal and 2012 Gold Medal squads.