Athlete Spotlight: Will Bowen ‘18 - BC High Lacrosse
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
BOSTON – Whether it’s a ground ball rolling into his area, an attack coming through the box straight at him, or the monumental decision of which college to attend, Will Bowen is strong in his convictions.
The junior captain and returning 2016 Mass Prep Stars Defensive Player of the Year, Bowen is poised to lead the Boston College High boys’ lacrosse team in 2017. Bowen, a University of North Carolina commit, made his declaration to the reigning National champions, even prior to prior to his first varsity campaign with the Eagles.
While earning an offer to play at one of the premier collegiate programs in the country at such a young age can create a sense of entitlement, Bowen’s head coach Steve Lydon, will tell you that is far from the truth.
“[Bowen] grew a lot during his first season playing varsity,” Lydon said. “He had already made his commitment [to UNC] and I’ve seen it happen where guys commit early and maybe underperform that expectation, but he came in and was an impact guy for us. Right off the bat he had a bit of maturity about him and he had the physical skills to go with it.”
“It's not all just given talent with [Bowen]," continued Lydon, who first coached Bowen on a 7th grade club team. "He works extremely hard on the things he struggles with. I find him to be a very instinctual player. He’s got great quickness and size and he’s competitive no matter what he’s doing.”
Combine that competitive nature with a knack for the game and you have a player capable of creating 77 turnovers and earning an All-American selection as a sophomore.
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Bowen is considered one of the top prospects in the country in the Class of 2018 and he was a main component in the Eagles' run to the state championship game last year, where they fell 10-8 to perennial powerhouse Lincoln-Sudbury.
The 2016 Mass Prep Stars Defensive Player of the Year, Boston Lax All-American game nominee, and Eastern Massachusetts All-American, Bowen had a breakout sophomore season.
BC High graduated several key pieces including two-time All-American selection Oskar Djusberg, standout goalkeeper Matt Haggerty and All-American attack A.J. Kucinski, who became the first player in BC High history to tally over 300 career points last year.
But Bowen was named a junior captain this year because his coaches and teammates believe he is capable of filling the leadership void left by those great players.
“That speaks to his leadership,” Lydon said about Bowen earning the honor of captain. “His peers kind of feel the same way about him as I do. More so than in the past we’re asking him to bring some of the younger guys up around him. He has to go from the mentee to the mentor and as a junior he has enough experience to help guys get better.”
For Bowen, a couple of years as a mentee under graduated Eagles star Shane Libby, who is currently playing at Trinity College, served as a road map for leadership.
“Shane Libby was the defenseman I looked up to the most,” Bowen said. “He was one of the most vocal and passionate kids I have ever met on and off the field. He taught me how to lead by example and fill any role that the team needs.”
Last season, Bowen was able to do a little bit of everything while collecting a team-high 121 ground balls and adding six goals and eight assists. He anchored the Eagles defense and was seemingly always in the correct position while preventing the opposition’s best attacks from doing much damage.
Lydon points to the junior’s competitive nature when trying to quantify Bowen’s value at the back.
“We don’t ask [Bowen] to do a whole lot more than we ask other guys to do, but when the ball is out in front and it’s a one-on-one matchup it’s very rare that he’s going to get beat in those situations. It’s part of his competitiveness and his skill set,” Lydon said.
By his own admission, Bowen has always been extremely competitive.
The Cohasset resident began his lacrosse career in 3rd grade as a mid, but suffered a setback a few years later that had him questioning whether he’d ever play the sport again.
In 6th grade, Bowen underwent surgery to remedy a knee condition called Osteochondritis Dissecans, or ‘OCD’ for short. He was on crutches for the better part of a year and had to put in tireless rehabilitation efforts to get back on the field by the time he was in 7th grade.
When he did get back in a uniform in pads, Bowen picked up a defenseman’s stick and found his true passion in the process.
“I’ve always been a very competitive kid and have always loved the competitive nature of squaring up with a guy one-on-one and being able to dictate what he’s doing,” Bowen explained.
Always a student of the game, Bowen is able to use film study and preparation to influence the attack and get into the right position.
He enrolled at BC High with plenty of lacrosse knowledge and immense skill, but improved drastically between his freshman to sophomore seasons while training year round and playing with the Laxachusetts club lacrosse program.
“During that offseason my athletic ability caught up to my lacrosse ability,” Bowen said about his improvement heading into his sophomore year. “I was a little awkward physically freshman year and I was able to combine my physical ability with my skill level.”
More than simply improving from a physical standpoint, he began to understand the game more as well as how his talents could benefit the entire team.
“One-on-one defense has always been a focal point but as I’ve grown I’ve started to learn about the team-oriented part of defense,” said Bowen. “Playing with a bunch of great players and being able to make kids better has been great [at BC High] and I’ve come to realize that’s how you can compete for state championships.”
With Bowen leading the back while the Eagles star-studded senior class came together late last season, BC High was able to take down rivals Xaverian and Newton North to win the South sectional and set up a date with Lincoln-Sudbury in the Division 1 state championship.
While the Eagles fell to the Warriors in a 10-8 thriller at Boston University’s Nickerson Field, Bowen is hopeful that experience will serve as motivation this season.
“We’re very hungry,” Bowen said. “Just to get a glimpse of that and to see L-S run out on the field after that [championship] game, the desire is definitely present throughout the locker room this year. It’s pushed everyone throughout the offseason and it will carry over into the season.”
He’s figured out how to overcome a debilitating knee condition, how to stop the best attackmen in the state, and determined that UNC is the best college for him.
Now the object of Bowen’s steadfast determination takes a turn toward leading BC High to BC High's first ever Division 1 State Championship.
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