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BYU soccer: Owens a positive force in goal for Cougars

Published October 31, 2012 1:37 pm

Women's soccer • She has posted 9 shutouts this season for the 5th-ranked Cougars.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Like most of us, Erica Owens every now and again has a bad day. It's just difficult to imagine.

Owens, the goalkeeper for BYU's fifth-ranked women's soccer team, appears so genuinely upbeat that it is easy to keep up while she discusses a future that she hopes will include motherhood as well as the Winter Olympics.

"I've considered going pro, but it's probably not for me," said Owens, a junior from Salt Lake City and Highland High School. "I know I want to be a mother."

Then, after a moment, "There's the bobsled."

Owens was approached about training with the U.S. bobsled team while a sophomore sprinter and long jumper at Highland. She opted to stay with soccer.

"I didn't take it seriously at first," she said. "Things have changed. I'd love to try."

For now, though, it's soccer only for Owens, a junior in her first year as a starter at BYU (16-1-1). The tall, athletic keeper redshirted two seasons ago and missed 2011 with a broken leg, which she suffered in a water accident that happened during a team function.

She also is proof positive that good things can come in threes. So far, she has played at the high level set by her predecessors Erika Woodbury and McKinzie Olson. During their eight-year reign beginning with Woodbury in 2004, BYU was a combined 95-33-22.

Owens has allowed 10 goals in 18 games with nine shutouts. BYU allowed one goal in its two nonvictories, a 1-0 loss to Utah and a scoreless tie against No. 21 Santa Clara.

"First of all, I don't consider myself in their class," Owens said. "I look at myself, I try to keep everybody motivated to play well."

Woodbury and Olson also downplayed their respective talents, content to praise the Cougar defense, which traditionally is a strong part of coach Jennifer Rockwood's nationally ranked teams.

But there comes a time when keeper and attacker face off and the best reactions win.

"She has great size and is very athletic and quick," Rockwood said. "When she got here, in her first season I knew she had the potential to be a really, really good keeper."

Owens' career at BYU nearly never happened. Rockwood wasn't looking for a keeper and didn't originally recruit Owens.

Plans often do change, and Rockwood found herself needing to restock her roster with another keeper.

"We had to go back," Rockwood said. "She watched her [high-school club team] in a tournament in San Diego. We decided to bring her in and take a chance on her."

For Owens, who had other suitors, the choice was obvious.

"I didn't have to consider it at all," she said.

As for this season and the future, "Our team has more potential this year than I've ever seen. We have passion, we want to win."

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter:@tribmarty