HB soccer star’s hopes fading

Choosing between one’s passion and the future is never easy. For Cole Owens, it’s his reality.

The Hollis Brookline High School senior can’t even remember the last time he wasn’t playing soccer competitively. With graduation only four months away, there is a chance that his days of competing for a school are over.

“It’s just a weird thing to think about,” Owens said. “There’s a possibility that you’ll never be able to go on the field, put on a jersey and score a goal that means something again.”

He scored plenty of meaningful goals in four season with the Cavaliers.

Owens finished his high school career with 47 goals. He participated in the Division II final four every year and reached the title game twice.

It’s been the same ride for Ricky Carvalho, who took over the Cavaliers program the same year Owens entered high school. What he’s witnessed is one of the state top players grow in his system.

“His pace and strength are good enough to match anyone in the state,” Carvalho said, “and he was the Division II leader in All-State votes two straight years.”

With two straight trips to the final, both losses to Windham – 3-2 in 2012 and 2-0 in 2013 – the Cavaliers were hoping a third shot would produce a championship. They never got that opportunity, losing 2-1 to Oyster River in the semifinals.

“Obviously we had much higher expectations,” Owens said. “Just at the end of the day we lost and it stinks how just two mistakes can ruin a season.”

Trailing 2-0 with 10 minutes left, Owens cut the margin in half with a goal off a cross from Cam Tulley on a bang-bang play in the 73rd minute. Everybody in attendance then thought Owens scored the equalizer on a rebound put-back of his own shot as time expired. That potential game-tying goal was waived off, the Cavaliers lost, and Owens’ high school career was officially over.

“At the end of the game I wasn’t really focused on losing the game or that we didn’t win a championship,” Owens said. “I was more caught up in the fact that I’ll never put this jersey on again.”

Now he’s not sure if he’s ever going to put on a jersey other than his club team’s this spring and summer.

He’s considering on bypassing outdoor track this spring to focus on his New Hampshire Premier Soccer Academy schedule, a club team based in Bedford, on which he plays with Alvirne High School standouts Brett Richardson and Raul Stedile, as well as other top players from Greater Nashua and the rest of the state.

“That might be it for me,” Owens said.

“I’m still unclear as to where I’m going to college, and there’s a chance this is it for me aside from maybe intramural soccer or possibly club soccer in college.”

At the moment, Owens’ top two choices are Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I., where he wants to major in molecular biology or engineering. Messiah is close to his father’s side of the family, near the state capital of Harrisburg, Pa., but already has its freshman class of soccer players selected for the fall, while Roger Williams still has Owens on its radar as a recruit.

Another option was Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., as the Engineers are still lacking depth at the forward position. However, after visiting the campus, Owens crossed WPI off the list in favor of Messiah and Roger Williams.

“Right now I’m really just waiting to hear back from Roger Williams,” Owens said. “I loved the campus and it’s a great engineering school also.”

Otherwise, it’s Messiah and no competitive soccer, unless he can land a walk-on role.

“That’s always a possibility,” Owens said, “but I attended Messiah’s ID camp and that is basically their freshman tryout. So they already selected who they wanted for the incoming freshman class.”

For now, he just waits for the call while looking back over four amazing years of high school action.

“I remember back to my freshman year. Back when Ricky talked to us one-on-one about who made varsity,” Owens said.

“He said, ‘I have good news and bad news. Good news is you’ll be on varsity. Bad news is you won’t be with any of your friends.’ It was just all smiles from there. I started every game since freshman year and there is nothing more I could have asked for.

“I’ll always treasure being part of the most successful soccer program we’ve ever had here. I’m not sure where it stands in the state over these four years, but to be able to say I was a part of the 50 something wins we’ve had over the past four years is special to me.”