Southeast Bulloch’s Ashley Owusu always had a mind for defense since she started playing soccer in the sixth grade. Over the years, she developed her skills as a defensive specialist and this year her hard work was rewarded by receiving co-Defensive Player of the Year honors for Region 1-AAA.
Owusu, a four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets, helped lead her team to an 8-2 region record. The award was a bit of validation for Owusu.
“It’s amazing to know other coaches recognize the skill that I have,” Owusu said. “My heart and my passion for soccer and the love I have for the sport and playing to the best of my ability is what sets me apart.”
Owusu, affectionately named by her teammates as the “brickwall,” gave opponents fits this year with her speed and agility on the field.
The Yellow Jackets piled up eight shutouts for the season, including four 10-0 victories. In the middle of the season, SEB girls soccer coach Kristen Barnhill decided to switch the formation of the team’s defense from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1.
Owusu said the change in formation helped her and the team.
“It helped me think about how to get the other team offsides or mark this person so they wouldn’t get a goal and think of new ways to become a better defensive player,” Owusu said.
Coach Barnhill said her senior starter was one of the most dependable defensive players she had this season.
Barnhill attributes Owusu’s participation in competitive cheerleading as a part of her success.
“She’s athletic and competitive and reads the game very well. She can anticipate the runs and read what the other players are doing,” Barnhill said. “Ashley’s the kind of kid that she’s going to be successful in whatever she does...she has a great personality.”
The Yellow Jackets advanced to the Sweet 16 in state this season, including a thrilling win over Jackson County in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Owusu said she learned a lot from her time at SEB and looks forward to the future.
“All my thanks goes to God because he gave me the ability and I’d like to thank coach Barnhill for telling me what to do and what not to do and how to defend two people at the same time.”
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.