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THE TIMES 1994 WINTER ALL-COUNTY TEAMS : Judkins' Play Has Brought Marina to Another Level


HUNTINGTON BEACH — If the criteria for player of the year came down to natural talent, Marina Coach Dave McLeish acknowledged that his sweeper, Dan Judkins, probably wouldn't be in the running.

But if he had to choose one player to start a team, Judkins would be his man.

Many Orange County soccer coaches agreed.

"He doesn't have the physical ability of (Corona del Mar's) Jason Boyce, but he understands the game better than any kid I've ever had," said McLeish, who has coached high school soccer for 19 years.

A Sunset League coach who watched Judkins play for four years made a similar observation: "The team doesn't make the playoffs without him. With him, they are an overtime goal from being league champs."

Marina was also an overtime goal from advancing to the Southern Section Division I semifinals, which still frustrates Judkins.

"The toughest part about losing was seeing Claremont go all the way after we lost to them, 3-2, in overtime," he said. "We had our chances too. I missed a breakaway in overtime."

But Judkins didn't miss many scoring opportunities. From his sweeper position, he tied with forwards Mike Harris and Jose Monroy for the team lead in goals with 10. He also had nine assists.

Judkins had been Marina's center midfielder for three years before he switched positions early this season.

"Our defense wasn't as strong this year and I asked my coach if I could move back to help the out team," Judkins said. "I think it settled the team and we were a lot more organized after that. I'm a little more vocal than some people and I can see the field."

McLeish said Judkins' sacrifice turned around the Vikings' season.

"He told me, 'It isn't as important for me to play a position where I can score as it is for me to play where I can help the team,' " McLeish said.

Next year, Judkins will be helping SMU's soccer team. He signed a letter of intent with SMU in March after also considering Indiana.

McLeish said he doesn't have any doubts that Judkins will continue his success at the college level.

"There are a lot of people that are close to Dan in skills, but the intelligence, the heart and the passion will take him to the next level," he said. "You can never predict what's going to happen, but you get the feeling with Dan that he'll be just fine."

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