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Cochran's Choice Is Heard Loud and Clear

January 31, 2002

All signs pointed to a successful season for the Riverside King girls' soccer team.

Several players returned from a squad that relied on a stalwart defense and just-enough offense to win the Sunkist League championship and reach the second round of the playoffs last season, the program's first.

And there were Tina Cochran's flying fingers and hand-hewn sentences, which spoke volumes.

Cochran, a sophomore left midfielder who earned all-league honors as a fullback last season, enrolled in an American Sign Language course last fall at Riverside City College.

It is a class for which she received early college credit and, after some misgivings, Coach Lance Riley's blessing.

"We kind of prided ourselves on our defense last year, and my all-league defender comes to me and says she's taking this class," Riley recalled.

"I went, 'You're going to miss practice every Wednesday during the season?' I kind of freaked out and wasn't too happy at first."

But he understood why Cochran enrolled in the course.

Her mother, Martha, was born deaf and is still hearing-impaired despite receiving a cochlear implant in her right ear last year.

The family always said a lot without speaking and signing was no foreign language.

"I'm used to signing," Tina Cochran said. "I didn't know the whole book, but I knew enough to get around."

She plans to enroll for the second part of the course when the spring semester begins in two weeks, but the winter break has allowed Cochran to practice throughout league play and helped ease her coach's concerns.

Cochran's willingness to sit out the start of Thursday games in accordance with team rules regarding missed practices and her smooth transition from fullback to midfielder have also helped.

"Before I found out I would have this break, I just assumed I was going to miss half of every game on Thursdays, and I was OK with that," said Cochran, who has three goals and three assists.

"I know soccer's not a career for me, and sign language was something I was doing for fun. But it's got the added benefit that I'm getting college credit for it."

Young guns: The development of freshman forwards Miranda Montejo and Kelleye Lazarus and sophomore midfielders Laila Gramalki and Jessica Aquino has helped King to a 19-2 record, 6-0 in the Sunkist League.

Montejo leads the Wolves with 19 goals and 10 assists.

Lazarus has 19 goals and five assists. Gramalki has a team-high 18 assists to go with two goals, and Aquino has 10 assists and five goals.

Sophomore goalkeeper Raegan Finnie has 15 shutouts.

Speaking of streaks: Westlake High is in the midst of an 11-game unbeaten streak that has given the Warriors the Marmonte League lead.

Westlake (11-3-2, 6-0-1), ranked seventh in Division II, scored key victories this week over Moorpark and Simi Valley. Westlake tied Simi Valley, 0-0, two weeks ago.

Lauren Peterson

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