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Net Working

Smith Recovers, With a Vengeance, for Dana Hills

March 13, 2001|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Magical seasons aren't supposed to end with a loss in the Southern Section boys' soccer finals. And they aren't supposed to end with the star player misfiring on two possible game-tying shots in the last five minutes.

But the way Dana Hills senior Forrest Smith figures it, the magic couldn't last forever.

"I guess it's kind of fate," he said. "I was lucky enough during the season. Maybe I couldn't have it all."

Maybe not, but Dana Hills' Coach Dennis Korinke thinks Smith is looking at it all wrong.

"Luck comes from hard work," he said. "The harder you work, the luckier you get. Nobody worked harder than Forrest. The guys told him after the game that his speed created those chances. It all happened in a split second. You don't have time to react."

Korinke knows that without Smith's 24 goals and six assists, the Dolphins would have never been in position to win the Division I title. Most county coaches agreed, which is why Smith is The Times' Orange County boys' soccer player of the year.

"He is the prototype high school forward," Woodbridge Coach Jon Szczuka said. "He's fast, he's physical and he can finish. I was really impressed with him."

Szczuka, like most county coaches, had never heard of Smith coming into the season. And it's no wonder. Entering his senior season, Smith had a grand total of four high school goals--three as a sophomore midfielder on the Dolphins' South Coast League title team and one last year in a third-place playoff game. He missed most of that season with a broken leg he suffered early in the season.

The road to recovery began last summer on the beaches of South Orange County. As a lifeguard, he worked his legs into shape by running on the beach and swimming in the ocean. When he wasn't on the beach, Smith was in the weight room building strength in his legs and upper body.

When the high school season began, Smith was 6 feet 2, 175 pounds. He had a new body and a new outlook.

"He was just so determined," Korinke said. "When you have desire like that, you can pretty much accomplish anything.

"His speed improved so much and he got so much stronger. He was just able to go by people."

But before the season started, Korinke wanted to make sure Smith was all the way back. So he started him at outside halfback in a scrimmage.

Smith quickly explained to Korinke that he was no longer a halfback.

"He said, 'Dennis, you can't do this to me, I've worked too hard,' " Korinke said. "That was the last time Forrest played anywhere but up top."

It didn't take long for Dana Hills midfielders Matt DuHadway and Mario Compean to realize they had a pretty good finisher. Smith started scoring immediately, and by the Marina holiday tournament in late December, he already had nine goals. But it wasn't until the Marina finals that the rest of the county began to take notice.

In a 3-0 victory over Long Beach Millikan in the championship game, he scored all three goals. The Dolphins, who were not ranked before the season, were suddenly the county's top-rated team.

Even though he was often double-teamed, Smith didn't slow down in the South Coast League, scoring eight goals and helping the Dolphins to their second league title in three seasons.

"I knew as a team we'd have a good season because we had all played together for so long," Smith said. "But I didn't anticipate I'd do so well. I knew what I wanted to do, but sometimes it doesn't happen for you."

It didn't happen for him in the 1-0 loss to Millikan in the Division I final, but Smith was still named Division I offensive player of the year in a vote of section coaches. And he will have other chances to score when he plays this fall for Fresno State.

Szczuka believes Smith is made for the college game.

"It's a physical, fast game in college," said Szczuka, who played at UC Irvine. "He's that type of player. He proved to me that he is the real deal."

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