Emily Owens can still recall the first time she held a field hockey stick as a grade schooler.
“I remember picking it up saying, ‘What is this thing? It’s so weird. Look at the hook,’” the Methacton senior recounted of her shopping trip with her mother that day. “I remember thinking that I’d much rather stick with lacrosse and focus my time on that … field hockey would just be something on the side.”
My, how things change with time.
Owens channeled her field hockey skills and became one of the area’s most potent offensive threats while paired alongside classmate Olivia Hoover the past four seasons. The senior left-forward and co-captain led the Warriors to a historic unbeaten regular season on the way to the program’s first Pioneer Athletic Conference title in nearly a decade.
For her efforts on the field and her devotion to her craft off it, Owens has been named The Mercury’s 2017 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“For me it’s amazing to think about because of how far I know I’ve come,” said Owens, who is committed to play at Drexel University next season. “There are so many amazing players around this area. It’s such hard competition. I could have never imagined this, couldn’t have dreamed it.”
Owens earns the award right on the heels of 2016 recipient Spring-Ford’s Lexie Nugent, now at Miami University of Ohio. Nugent earned the award in the footsteps of Owen J. Roberts’ Nettie Montes (Hofstra University).
It is a true testament to the time and devotion that Owens, a PA High School Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team selection, has given to her game the past several years.
Shortly after she began her field hockey career, which was supposed to be a mere hobby, something changed in Owens. Prior to her freshman year at Methacton, she dropped lacrosse completely and focused solely on field hockey.
A competitor all her life, Owens had no issue getting up to speed with the aggression of the game. Her biggest adjustment, though, proved to be her stick-skills.
“I started playing indoor when I was around 11 and that really sharpened my skills a lot,” she said. “You play in a close, small area. You’ve got to refine your stick-skills in that environment. My parents signed me up for everything — practices, tournaments, games — they gave me every opportunity they could. That made me the player I am today.”
The player she is today has proven to be a unique challenge for most of the opposition on her climb through the ranks.
As a left-forward, Owens is forced to consistently utilize the reverse-side of her stick, a unique skill that she has mastered to this point in her career. Unlike ice hockey, field hockey players are only able to use the flat end of their stick. So learning to play the left side takes some serious dedication.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches come up to me and tell me, ‘I want you as my left wing. You have good reverse-skills and can bring the ball up that side,’” said Owens. “That’s definitely given me a lot of confidence and helped me to develop my game.
“It’s a very underrated and unused side in high school,” she added. “It’s good to go down on your right side, because it’s your strong side, it’s where you want to attack. But I think it’s a very big asset to go on your left because most teams put their weak defense there.”
For the season, Owens led her team with 30 goals to go along with seven assists. She registered a point in all but four games and her season also featured a six-game scoring streak to start the year. Owens’ best statistical showing came in a game during the final stretch of the season when she scored four times and added an assist in the Warriors’ 7-0 win on the road at Harriton.
All statistics aside, Owens had a much different focus in mind along with the rest of her team during the Warriors’ memorable run.
“We were so focused on winning games, all of us,” she said. “It didn’t matter who was doing the scoring or who did what, all we were focused on was winning games. That drove us all season.”
That approach took them to the PAC Championship game where they held off two-time defending champion Owen J. Roberts, 3-1, for the program’s first title since 2008.
Owens termed the night ‘invigorating,’ giving credit to a student section that swarmed Upper Perk’s Tribe Stadium about 10 minutes into regulation.
“The entire time leading up to the game, we were talking about getting a fan bus for our school,” she said. “They were running late, but I remember about 10 minutes into the game, there was a giant mass of Methacton students running into the stadium.
“It was crazy, one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in front of. As a field hockey team, you don’t get a lot of support. That fueled us all throughout the game.”
Although their season came to an abrupt finish — the No. 2-seeded Warriors were eventually ousted in the second round of the District 1-3A playoffs for their first loss — there isn’t any sort of looking back from Owens to this point in her career.
“I’m thankful for everything that I’ve learned and been a part of here at Methacton,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be half the person I am today without my coaches and my teammates.”
And of course, not without her field hockey stick.
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