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Girls’ Athlete of the Week : Linhart Waits Until Playoffs to Get Fired Up

Times Staff Writer

Becky Linhart is a fun-loving, easy-going kind of soccer player.

Very easy going.

She was so laid back at soccer practice she seemed not to be exerting herself.

This frustrated Capistrano Valley High School soccer Coach Steve Bignal.

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It seems he was not from the laissez-faire school of coaching. He was more of a perfectionist. The two ironed out their differences just in time for the Southern Section 4-A girls’ soccer playoffs.

Though she scored only three goals for the Cougars in South Coast League play, Linhart, The Times’ athlete of the week, kicked her offensive production into overdrive, scoring seven goals in four playoff matches.

Her last goal came Friday in the championship game against Simi Valley. She scored the match-winner with the score tied, 3-3, and 2 minutes remaining in overtime.

In the semifinals against Royal Tuesday, she pulled off a hat trick, scoring three of her team’s seven goals in the shutout. She has surprised herself with her offensive outburst.

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“I don’t think it has hit me,” said Linhart, a junior. “To score like that and do that must be a mistake because CIF is a big thing.

“I guess I just peaked when it came to the playoffs. I didn’t know what to expect in the last game. I thought that it would be neat if I could do (the hat trick) again.”

She didn’t get the hat trick but she did score twice in the championship match.

Linhart got a late soccer start because she plays outside hitter for the Cougars’ volleyball team. And because her style clashed with Bignal’s.

“She is not the kind of girl who in practice impresses people,” Bignal said.

He has always seen great athletic ability and potential in Linhart, even if the player and coach have not always seen eye to eye, he said.

“With a lot of the good athletes you see nowadays, they have to have a personality of their own, and I think she has that,” Bignal said. “She is one of the fun people on the team. She has a very laid-back attitude.

“I am very much a nit-picky person and kind of a perfectionist in many ways, and with the whole team, not just with Becky.”

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Both player and coach made some adjustments.

“Becky progressed as the season went on, and got a lot more playing time during playoffs,” Bignal said. “She really started to control the ball a lot more, control it to her body and take on players.”

Bignal, for his part, said he relaxed a little. He adjusted his style to that of Linhart and her teammates.

“We did not have a very good beginning,” he said. “I think we were just putting too much pressure on ourselves. And when we started to relax at practice a little more, we started enjoying ourselves a little more.”

TOP PERFORMERS

Joni Easterly scored 34 points, including nine of Katella’s 13 points in overtime, to lead the Knights to the 4-A girls’ basketball championship with a 54-48 victory over Muir Thursday.

Aimee McDaniel tallied 25 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead Brea-Olinda to its second 3-A girls’ basketball title in four seasons with a 69-40 victory over Atascadero Friday.

Kristen McDonald, Valencia center, scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to help the Tigers to the 4-AA championship with a 56-45 victory over Canyon Thursday.

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Becky Linhart

Capistrano Valley High

Position: Forward

Height, Weight, Class: 5-9, 125, Junior

Last Week: Linhart scored three goals in Tuesday’s 7-0 4-A semifinal victory over Royal. She scored a goal in regulation and added the game-winner in overtime in Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Simi Valley in the final.

Season: Linhart scored three goals in conference play.


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