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Goalkeeper Maneuvers Keeping Soccer Coaches Busy

November 16, 1994|LON EUBANKS

If you're a coach getting your team ready for the start of the NCAA playoffs, you want everything upbeat and positive.

But it wasn't to be for Cal State Fullerton soccer Coach Al Mistri. He and assistant Bob Ammann decided Tuesday to indefinitely suspend starting goalkeeper Mike Kornock for missing practice. Mistri said Kornock won't play when the Titans meet San Diego in a first-round game at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Titan Stadium.

"We had a practice scheduled for Saturday and Mike opted to do something else," Mistri said. "He had indicated he wanted to visit his girlfriend in Arizona over the weekend." Controversy has been simmering at goalkeeper since junior Justin Johnston played well as Kornock's replacement in Fullerton's 3-2 overtime victory over top-ranked Indiana last month. Johnston played the last 54 minutes and held Indiana scoreless after Kornock went out with a red card.

The red card also kept Kornock out of the lineup in the next game against Notre Dame, and the coaches felt Johnston again played well in a 2-2 tie.

But when the Titans met California a week later, Kornock was back in the starting lineup.

"It was a difficult decision at the time, but we didn't want him to think that one decision that cost him the red card put him on the bench," Ammann said. Fullerton won, 5-2, but Ammann said Kornock didn't play particularly well. "I told him that I thought both goals he gave up were soft," Ammann said.

In the next game against Loyola Marymount, Johnston was in the starting lineup, and the Titans won, 4-3.

"We had decided a long time before to have Justin play that last game to give him some more experience if we needed him in the playoffs," Mistri said. "Kornock had been our starting goalkeeper in 18 of 19 games, so it's not like we had shown a lack of confidence in him."

Kornock was not available for comment.

Mistri and Ammann said they didn't think they were snubbing Kornock by not starting him against Loyola Marymount. "We did the same thing last year when we let him start the last game of the season when he was backing up my brother, Mike," Ammann said.

While Mistri would have preferred sailing calmer waters this week, he remains hopeful the incident won't detract from his team's focus on Saturday's game. "This group can do it," Mistri said. "We had our biggest win of the season with Johnston in the net."

And who will back up Johnston?

"We're looking around the recreational leagues on campus," he said.

He wasn't joking.


Athletic Director John Easterbrook is pleased the Titans were able to be the host for Saturday's tournament game.

"It will be good for our coaches, our players and our fans to have the game at home," Easterbrook said. "It's always an advantage for any team to be playing at home, and I think our fans will support it. We're really excited about it."

Easterbrook said Fullerton had to guarantee the NCAA $4,500 to get the game.

"We figure we'll need a crowd of about 1,000 to break even," he said. "The team has been averaging just under that for home games, so we should be fine if our fans turn out for it the way we think they will. After all, there are only 32 soccer teams in the running for the national championship now, and our team is one of them."

Easterbrook, who is in the first few months of his job, said he would like to see more Titan teams be host to NCAA events.

It will take continued improvements in the baseball stadium, however, for the school to be considered for a regional despite the longtime success record.

"It's tougher financially in baseball too," Easterbrook said. "It usually takes a six-figure bid to get a baseball regional, and then you still can't be assured of getting one."


Coach Bob Hawking gets his first look at his men's basketball team against outside opposition when the Titans face the Blue and Gold Fleet team in an exhibition at 7:35 p.m. Thursday in Titan Gym.

"We don't know much about the other team," Hawking said. "From what we do know, they're mostly former college players from the Bay Area. I think most played at the University of San Francisco and St. Mary's. But it will be a good test for us."

Hawking was pleased with the Titans' weekend scrimmage. "The execution was better and I could tell the conditioning was better," Hawking said. "We've been getting some good play from several different people."

Hawking said he hasn't committed to a starting lineup. "We probably won't do that until Thursday," he said. "We're having some real good competition at several spots, and it's still real close."


Cross-country Coach John Elders was happy Heather Killeen was able to squeeze into the field for the NCAA championships next Tuesday at Arkansas after her recent misfortune in the NCAA regional and the Big West meet.

She finished 12th in the regional last weekend in Tucson, Ariz., despite more physical problems. But they were less severe than the trouble she had from bronchitis in the Big West meet when she faded from first to fourth.

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