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Gonzalez's Milestone Is a Winning Attitude

January 17, 2002

Juan Gonzalez of Culver City High scored two goals Wednesday in an 8-2 victory over visiting Inglewood Morningside, raising his career total to 101, but joining the exclusive century club is not the senior's biggest accomplishment this season.

Gonzalez became only the 10th Southern Section player to have found the net 100 times during his career, according to section records, but his on-field demeanor is where he has made the biggest strides this season.

Gonzalez, a four-year starter, had 24 goals as a junior but had to sit out the last 12 games of the season after receiving his third red card. He had received only one yellow card this season before the Morningside game while tallying 26 goals and 11 assists.

Rules stipulate that a player sit out one game after being issued his first red card, two games for a second and the remainder of the season for a third.

Gonzalez knew the rules but still received his third red card in the second league game.

"I was used to playing club soccer and winning a lot," Gonzalez said. "I'm a sore loser and I couldn't handle the fact that we were losing a lot last season."

Culver City was 11-14-1 last season while being racked by dissension, but a less-talented Centaur squad is 9-5-4 and in second place in the league standings with a 4-1-1 record.

Culver City has played more as a team this season and some of that can be attributed to Gonzalez keeping his cool on the field, despite being double- and sometimes triple-teamed.

"I told him [after that last season] that he needed to grow up and show some leadership," said Coach Dave Sanchez, an assistant at Culver City the previous three years. "We needed him to maintain his composure on the field for us to be successful."

Gonzalez, who is being recruited by North Carolina State, San Jose State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside, said sitting on the sidelines at the end of last season taught him a painful, but necessary, lesson.

"I can't be on the bench," he said. "To me, not playing soccer is like not breathing."

Tale of two games: Dana Hills did everything right in a 5-0 victory against highly regarded Lake Forest El Toro on Jan. 9 but tied less-heralded Mission Viejo, 1-1, two days later.

"Everything we shot found the corner of the net," Coach Dennis Korinke said of the game against El Toro. "We didn't expect a big victory.... On Friday, we just missed a lot. We didn't put a lot of shots on goal when we had opportunities. We didn't play a complete game."

Overconfidence might have played a part in Dana Hills' lackluster effort against Mission Viejo, Korinke said.

"The guys kind of start thinking, 'Hey. We're really good,'" he said. "That sometimes is more of a distraction than it's worth."

Frustrated coach: A 2-0 loss at Riverside Poly on Monday dropped Santa Margarita (16-3-3) from the top 10 for the first time this season and left Coach Curt Bauer perplexed about his team's play.

"We don't have a lot going well right now and I don't know if we're ever going to," he said of a team that has scored six goals in its last five games. "Perhaps the lack of playing time the guys have had together [because of several injuries] is catching up to us."

John Ortega

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