Eastwood senior soccer player Hannah Owens provides her teammates with a secret weapon they take with them on to the field tucked into their shin pads.
Owens, a captain with the Eagles, has a special way of motivating her teammates.
“I do inspirational quotes before every game,” Owens said. “I'll pick out a quote based on who we play and hand them out to the whole team. We put them in our shin guards and it's something we keep in mind for the whole game.”
The notes have proven to be effective this season. Eastwood (14-1), ranked No. 6 in the latest Division III state coaches poll, opened the season with 14 consecutive wins before the Eagles suffered their first loss Monday to No. 7 Liberty-Benton 3-1. Eastwood already has clinched the Northern Buckeye Conference title (9-0).
VIDEO: Eastwood’s Hannah Owens
Eastwood coach Megan Rutherford said Owens leads with her play but also can be vocal.
“She prints out these quotes before games. They are little sheets of paper with motivational and inspirational type messages that she gives to every player,” Rutherford said. “She does all the little things a good leader does. She's willing to take teammates to and from practice and give them rides.”
Owens, who is a center midfielder and four-year varsity starter, earned All-NBC honors as a junior. She has 13 goals and eight assists in her career. As a senior, Owens has tallied four goals.
“She is an incredibly hard worker,” Rutherford said. “She fights for every ball and she takes pride in her defending. When she’s at her best, she plays with such joy that it’s fun watching her. She’s not afraid to try new things and will try crazy combinations of moves and just break defender's ankles. She does well distributing the ball and starting our attacks. She also is a scoring threat and isn’t afraid to take shots from distance.”
Owens, who also is a standout basketball and softball player, first started playing soccer when she was 4.
“I've really grown to love it,” Owens said. “I like the speed and the team aspect of it — getting the group together and working as one.”
Owens also served as a captain last season, when she had four goals and three assists.
“I try to do whatever is best for the team,” she said. “If I need to be a distributor or if I need to get shots off, that's what I do. These girls are very energetic.”
Rutherford said all six seniors have all taken on leadership roles for a talented freshmen class that has made significant contributions this season.
Eastwood is outscoring the opposition 84-16.
Rutherford said Owens is a great leader, especially with how she plays.
“Her strengths are her work ethic, intensity, and competitive fire. Hannah makes others around her better,” Rutherford said. “Even though it may not show on the stat sheet, Hannah is crucial to the success of our team. She is the core of our midfield and communicates well with the players around her.”
Owens, who has committed to play softball at Owens Community College, has always loved athletics. She earned All-NBC first team honors as a second baseman last season and helped lead the Eagles to a regional final.
“Sports are my main thing. I just love sports. Softball has always been a joy of mine,” she said.
Owens plans to go to nursing school.
“My mom is a nurse. So I've been around that my whole life. I just find that fulfilling to help others,” she said.
But first Owens hopes to help the Eagles make a deep tournament run. Eastwood opens the tournament against Northwood on Tuesday.
“I try to show the girls what it takes to work hard every day,” Owens said. “I like to keep the girls together and work toward our goals.”
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