By Will LeBlond
ITHACA – After growing up in a lacrosse-crazed town, Ithaca High School senior Theo Cowett decided to give it a try this spring.
He starred on the soccer field throughout his four years with the Little Red during the fall, which bled into the other two seasons, as he played the sport year-round.
When he wasn’t playing with the Little Red during the fall, he was playing with TC Waza, which is a local club soccer team coached by Lamarr Peters. With his high school soccer career now in the rearview mirror, he wanted to join his friends for one last stab at glory.
“Pretty much my entire life, all of my friends have played lacrosse, but I was always playing soccer” said Cowett. “Soccer consumed a lot of my life, until this year, I decided I was going to take a break in the spring.”
He has joined a bunch of his close friends which include Cam Hartman, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Eamon Bollinger and Nick Miller who have been staples on coach Frank Welch’s team in recent years. This move by Cowett does not come without precedence though, as his friend Tristan Cornell Roberts did the same thing last year, before he joined the Hobart College soccer team this past fall.
Even with a good group of people to confide with on the particulars of the sport, it has still been a gradual process for Cowett to get accustomed to the new game.
“One game, the ref blew the whistle and I had no idea what was going on,” joked Cowett. “I’m still somewhat learning that, but after I played one scrimmage, coach Frank [Welch] told me that it’s totally different than a practice and games are on a whole different speed.”
Welch has been a helpful source of information for Cowett, as the longtime coach of the Little Red has seen a multitude of players and personalities during his time.
“Frank has been absolutely great,” said Cowett. “During our first indoor practice, he pulled me to the side and gave me a whole 1-on-1 tutorial and he walked me through certain aspects of the game, but he’s also been very understanding of someone who just picked up the sport.”
While this is the first time he has played in competitive games, he’s not totally new to the game. He is very used to playing pass with a lacrosse ball.
“I would shoot around with friends all the time, but no actual playing in games with pads,” said Cowett.
With that being said, shooting around with his buddies is quite different than finding the right spots on the field to play as a team unit and that’s something that he has been working on in the early going of the season.
“The hardest part is definitely the positioning,” said Cowett. “Especially on defense, I’ve been playing defensive midfielder and a short stick defender, and the positioning is totally different in that you have a stick and you don’t use your feet, and that was a huge difference.”
Welch has given Cowett ample time to figure out the sport in game situations so far. With a good deal of depth on his roster, Welch has been able to empty out his bench on a few occasions this season. As of April 12, the team was off to a perfect 6-0 start, which included four victories by 10 goals or more.
With so much promise in the beginning of the season, looking to the future and what this team could do has Cowett and the rest of his teammates excited.
“I think it’s definitely cool to be a part of this team,” said Cowett. “We could definitely go far in the state tournament and win the sectional title. It was cool for me to know that I was coming to a team that had the chance for great success.”
Before anything else, the Little Red will have the obstacle of knocking off the Corning Hawks, who have beaten Ithaca in three consecutive Class A Section IV Championship games.
“Our first goal is to win the sectional title,” said Cowett. “Beating Corning is what it’s all about.”
Cowett has already crossed off a goal of his own, as he recently notched his first varsity assist. Moving forward, he wants to score his first goal to add to his collection of memories before he heads off to Northeastern University next year to continue his education.
The Little Red has a bunch of good tests coming up. They will host Section V powerhouse Fairport on Wednesday, April 19, before they take on Loyola Academy of Illinois in a neutral site game to be played at Hobart College on Friday, April 21. They will then host Johnson City on Tuesday, April 25, before their first encounter with three-time reigning sectional champion Corning on the road on Friday, April 28.