By Rob Centorani 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.
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.”