Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 | 7 p.m.
Centennial girls soccer player Julie Owens has been compared to a quarterback of a high-scoring football team by her coach.
The senior midfielder surveys the field, finds holes in the defense and hits teammates with precision passes that fuel the Bulldogs offense.
"In soccer, what separates players is their ability to see the game," Centennial coach Emmanuel Ayim said. "If you don't see the game, you can't make passes to make the game happen. Julie has phenomenal field vision and that is reflected in her having so many assists this season."
A four-year starter for Centennial, Owens leads the Bulldogs with a career-high 21 assists. The team is off to an 11-1-1 record with three players who have recorded double figures in goals.
"I've made some good passes and I can control the middle really well," Owens said. "My team has helped me out a lot too. I know who is around me, and I now they'll always be there to give the pass to."
Centennial midfielder Ashley Mosley, who has 10 goals, said Owens has had an outstanding season.
"She's helped us out a lot," Mosley said. "She can hit the ball from outside the 18-yard box pretty much anywhere on the field."
Owens' playmaking ability earned her attention from UNLV, where she signed a scholarship Feb. 4.
"I kind of wanted to leave, but then I met the UNLV coaches and became really close to them," Owens said. "I know a lot of people on the team already so I feel it will be a good fit for me. We have a lot of good players (in Southern Nevada) so it's good to have a college that recruits us."
While she prefers to set teammates up for goals rather than score herself, Owens has found the net in key situations this season. She scored the game-winning goal on Feb. 9 during a 3-2 win against Northwest rival Palo Verde — the team that eliminated Centennial from the postseason when Owens was a freshman and sophomore.
Last year, the Bulldogs finally got past their rival to win the state championship. Owens said the team has what it takes to repeat.
"We're off to a really good year," she said. "We're really strong throughout the whole team — we really don't have a weak point. And we're all really close, so that makes it easier when we play."
Ayim said a second state championship for Centennial would largely rest on the shoulders of Owens.
"She is our leader. As she goes, so does the team," the coach said. "She's moving on to the next level and you can tell she's more than prepared to take on the next challenge from the way she conducts herself currently as a high school soccer player."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].