Owusu stands tall for Bulldogs
Lebron Owusu is a dominant presence on defence for the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs senior boys soccer team.
“He stands tall back there, he is aggressive, he can get to the loose balls in the air and once he settles it down, he has very good touch,” Churchill head coach Dave Kamatovic said.
All those traits were on full display Thursday as the visiting Bulldogs battled to a 0-0 draw with the Centennial Cougars in Niagara Region High School Athletic Association play.
Owusu, named a Niagara College high school all-star last season, has been on a rapid ascent up the soccer ranks. He played house league for several seasons and only recently started playing travel soccer.
“After playing travel, all my coaches said I was good enough to play at a higher level so I started playing for Empire United (Niagara). That is when I started playing really good and now I play for Roma League1 (under-19),” the Grade 12 student said,
He credits Empire United for his rapid development.
“I went from NSL (Niagara Soccer League) Roma to Empire and that was a big jump but it really helped me a lot,” the 18-year-old said. “You learn a lot with those coaches and coach Carm (Provenzano) taught me a lot defensively. My coaches and playing with guys who are a lot better pushed me to get better.”
He describes his style of play as calm.
“I am relaxed and calm and I know I can beat the first man coming for the press. As soon as I beat him, I look for a quick pass because that breaks the line of pressure. Someone is always going to be open after that.”
The six-foot, 175-pounder enjoys playing high school soccer.
“Of course it is fun playing for your school and trying to get recognition There is also the all-star game for Niagara College,” he said. “It is a learning experience getting to play with a bunch of different guys that you normally don’t get to play with on a travel team.”
He is planning take a gap year when he graduates this spring but is going to continue playing soccer.
“I am going to play for Roma and see where that takes me.”
Churchill came into the game with a 2-1-1 record thanks to a two-game winning streak and Kamatovic felt the Bulldogs deserved a better fate Thursday.
“Their keeper kept them in it. We had most of the pressure in the second half and he just stood tall at the right times.”
He likes where his team sits right now.
“One loss on the season isn’t too bad,” he said. “Technically we are very skilled and our centre backs are almost like brick walls back there. We are solid defensively and we have skill up front so we have a nice combination.”
Centennial came into the game with an 0-2-1 record and played Churchill tough. There were a number of yellow cards handed out and there were more than a few nasty collisions.
“I thought it was a pretty even game and it went back and forth. The wind was in play in all game and it was hard getting through balls in in the first half,” Centennial coach Nick Tomaino said. “In the second half, they controlled the midfield and had a few more opportunities but we fought hard and we were happy with the tie.”
Centennial goalie Aidan McIntosh played a key role in the tie.
“Our goalie played a great game. He made a couple of key saves especially on their free kicks,” he said.
Tomaino has been happy with his team’s play this season.
“Our team is solid. Last year, we were playing in a double A/single A league and this year we are playing double A/single A so we are up against bigger, tougher schools,” he said. “Every game has been competitive and close. We had a tie against Myer and a 1-0 loss against Eden.”