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July 20, 2013

Player of the Year Rowley sets sights on D-I soccer

By Rob Centorani Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — It’s been said that standout athletes don’t see things as they are but how they’ll develop over the next several seconds.

Therein lies perhaps the most distinguishable talent of Cooperstown’s Michael Rowley.

“I think I was just always looking for plays that could be,” Rowley said.

That vision separated Rowley from the field in 2012.

“He could see two passes ahead of the play,” Cooperstown coach Frank Miosek said of Rowley, who earned Daily Star Player of the Year honors for boys soccer for the second straight season. “You get a handful of kids who can see it and do it. I’ve been doing this combined for boys and girls soccer for almost 40 years. I’ve probably had 10 kids over the years who have that ability to see ahead and go to space and be there for players.”

Rowley finished with an area-best 27 goals and 11 assists in 2012 in leading Cooperstown to a 15-3 record.

Like Rowley’s Cooperstown squad, 25th-year Oneonta High coach Alex Brannan once again had to work several newcomers into the lineup. Still, Oneonta went 13-3, won its first Southern Tier Athletic Conference title since 1985 and advanced to the Section Four Class B final. Brannan earned The Daily Star’s Coach of the Year award for the second straight year and the seventh time overall.

Rowley becomes the first player to earn back-to-back outright Player of the Year honors from The Daily Star in boys soccer. Former Roxbury standout Deedle Ely shared Daily Star Player of the Year recognition with Tim Oserhoudt of Cooperstown in 1990 and with Brendan Miosek (Frank’s son) of Cooperstown in 1991. Likewise Edmeston’s Brad Belden was a co-Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004, the former with teammate Paul Stanton and the latter with Laurens’ Tom Dorritie.

Though Rowley scored 28 goals as a junior, he did so with a senior-laden roster. This past season, Rowley was literally a marked man on a Cooperstown young squad.

“After four years (of varsity soccer), my last year was a lot of man marks,” Rowley said. “Even though we lost a lot of athletes (from the 2011 team), the younger kids stepped up and filled in roles. When people marked me, it freed up kids on our team. This past season, I realized I had to take on more of a defensive role. I knew I wouldn’t get as many chances. I tried to do the same things, but I just had to capitalize on my chances.”

Added Miosek: “He had to play a lot of defense and he had a great year for us. It was a better year for him. He matured as a player and made everyone around him better. He has a real passion for the game.”

Once Cooperstown’s season ended, Rowley stepped into a significantly higher level of soccer, playing for the Empire United out of Syracuse.

Come August, it’ll get even tougher as Rowley has earned a spot on the Empire Revolution out of Rochester.

Asked the difference between high school soccer and the competition he’ll see in Rochester over the next 10 months, Rowley said: “It’ll be a very big difference. A lot of the players, their goal is to play some sort of pro soccer. They play year-round. Stature-wise, they’re bigger, they know the game better and they’re so much faster.

“It’s pretty much the highest level of youth soccer in the U.S.,” he continued. “That’s where a lot of the best players are.”

Rowley, 17, said he’ll take classes at Monroe Community College while he plays for Rochester. He added that the following season, he’d like to be suiting up for an NCAA Division I program.

“I’d definitely like to play D-I soccer,” said Rowley, a member of the Cooperstown basketball squad that advanced to the Class C state semifinals in 2012. Rowley opted not to play basketball as a senior so he could concentrate on soccer. “The majority of schools I’ve talked to are D-I schools and my goal is to play D-I.”

Miosek said if Rowley adds some muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame, he’ll fit in fine at the D-I level.

“With some weight training, he can be a Division I player,” the longtime Cooperstown coach said. “He could be a defensive back. He has tremendous presence in the back. His love for the game will contribute highly to someone else’s program.”

Oneonta’s program is flourishing under Brannan. The Yellowjackets have reached the Section Four Class B final each of the last four years, winning titles in 2009 and 2011.

This past season — after graduating six starting seniors — OHS earned dramatic overtime victories against Vestal and Corning en route to winning the STAC title. It followed those two wins with a 2-1 sectional semifinal victory in overtime against Dryden before falling, 5-2, to Susquehanna Valley in the final.

Daily Star First Team All-Stars and recent graduates Connor Brown, Stijn van Pel, Ben Gollin led the way for Oneonta, along with soon-to-be seniors Griffin Rule and Zach Joseph.

The Yellowjackets lost nine players to graduation last month. Still, after the season-ending loss to SV, Brannan didn’t sound worried.

“This team really is overachievers,” he said at the time. “Nobody expected us to do anything. (SV) lost one player from last year’s team; we lost six. At the end of the game, I had five JV players in who were competing well against them. I was pretty happy.

“When it was 5-1, I didn’t give up,” he continued. “I thought we could still score goals, but I started looking at players who could play positions for next year and started moving them around. A lot of the guys who were out there at the end are going to be here next year. That’s what happens when you have a good program. You get here every year.”

Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.