NEWARK – Playing for Newark, James Bowen became the first Seneca High School student to score a goal in an IHSA soccer match Monday afternoon.
His goal was not the last by an SHS student in the season opener against Plano, nor was it the most important in a match that ended 3-3.
Bowen scored with 23:13 left in the first half on an assist from Kevin Klock to avenge a goal by Plano’s Adrian Cervantes seven minutes earlier.
Cervantes scored two more goals before the Norsemen came back in the second half. Newark’s Matt Eike had the second goal with 30:42 to play, and with just 7:25 remaining, freshman Seneca player Tom Bartkus beat Plano keeper Oscar Flores to complete the comeback.
“It’s a really awesome feeling,” Bowen said. “I didn’t take this as just another game. I came in wanting to play as hard as I could, give it everything I had and show my team what I can do.”
For Bowen, a SHS junior, the opportunity to play soccer for a school team did not exist until SHS agreed to co-op with Newark in the sport this year.
“It’s something we’ve been trying to get going since my freshman year,” Bowen said. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen until the end of last year. That’s when we started hearing that the administration was going to agree to enter into this agreement with Newark. We’re really excited to have the chance.”
With nine Seneca players on his 25-player roster, Newark coach J.R. Veliz watched his Norsemen finish even with a team that defeated them 8-1 last season.
“Communication, leadership, working hard – those are the things we’re trying to do,” Veliz said.
“The kids have been hearing that message, and they applied that in our game [Monday]. I couldn’t be prouder of what they showed.”
The three goals would not have been enough had Klock not made two saves inside of the final seven minutes. Klock played the second half in net for the Norseman after Ryan Edwards played the first.
Bowen assisted the Bartkus goal.
“We only played one season together, in the Seneca Recreation League,” Bowen said of himself and Bartkus. “But it was nice to see that we had that chemistry going.”