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Goodson back on line

Texas transfer has found joy on the field while helping UC Irvine enjoy unprecedented success.

November 19, 2010|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

There are many facets to CoCo Goodson.

There is the soft-spoken California girl who is quick with a smile, who is festooned with bracelets made by friends and loved ones that are attached more to her heart than the wrists on which they reside.

There is also the teeth-clinching competitor who grinds between the sidelines, who curtly instructs whining opponents to "shut up," and who would rather walk home from the tennis court steamed than ride in a car with a family member guilty of a questionable call on match point.

There are also the separate soccer incarnations.

There is the reluctant target forward whose size, strength and booming shot helped her share the team scoring lead as a freshman at Texas in 2008, when she was the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year.

And there is the ubiquitous center defender now starring for UC Irvine, who doesn't so much shut down strikers as lord over an opponent's entire attack. Her field vision helps her launch rockets to target forwards, while retaining explosive productivity as both a trigger and aerial flash point for set pieces.

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In her first season with the No. 16-ranked Anteaters (19-2-2), whose historic season continues in the NCAA Tournament round of 16 against visiting Washington (12-8-2) tonight at 6, Goodson said she has comfortably reconciled the latter dichotomous descriptions. She has, she'll tell you through the sunshine smile, as golden as her tightly bound blonde hair, found peace on the pitch, once again.

"I kind of lost my love for the sport at Texas, just because it was more of a job than fun," said Goodson, the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year whose five game-winning goals lead the conference and whose nine goals rank second in the Big West only to teammate Tanya Taylor (11). "Here [at UCI] last spring, it became fun again. I found the joy in soccer again and that was a huge deal for me."

Goodson helped lead Cathedral Catholic High to CIF San Diego Section championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and was, at 14, the youngest recruit ever to set foot in the office of then-UCI coach April Heinrichs.

But eventually, Goodson, after a coaching change caused her to rescind her verbal commitment to Cal, chose Texas over Tennessee, intent on joining a big-time athletic program in a nationally renowned college town.

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