Harrison’s Sowe named Section 2 Player of Year

EDISON – He just received the New Jersey Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association’s North Jersey Section 2 Player of the Year, but Omar Sowe was already looking toward a bright future.

The all-time leading scorer in Harrison High School’s rich and storied soccer tradition, Sowe has several options at his beckon call as he makes a move toward continuing his stellar soccer career.

“As of right now, I have a lot of options to think about,” Sowe said. “I really don’t know what I’ll do.”

One of his options is to join older brother Modou, who is a standout player at Rowan University.

“I would love to play with my brother,” Sowe said. “It’s one of the options I have. We’ll wait and see what happens.”

But for now, Sowe will continue studying at Harrison High and will continue to play with the New York Red Bulls Academy 19-and-under team.

“I’ve been with them for about a month now,” Sowe said of the Red Bulls Academy, which the man team hopes is a breeding ground for future Red Bulls players. “It’s a big transition going from the school ranks to the ranks of the Academy, but I feel like I fit in. It didn’t take long to fit right in. The training is hard and intense. It’s a little different.”

Sowe received his honor at the NJSCCA’s annual awards banquet at the Pines Manor.

Yours truly was the recipient of this year’s Media Award.

Sowe just returned from a three-game showcase with the Red Bulls U-19 team in Florida, where he scored a goal and had an assist against FC Barcelona’s U-19 squad.

“I’m still going to school and I’m going to finish the year,” said Sowe, who had 35 goals and 26 assists for the Blue Tide last season, a year after scoring 37 goals and having 31 assists. “I’ve been training with the Red Bulls about four times a week. I felt like I was ready for this challenge. I’m glad they saw something in me to give me a chance. I feel like this is just the beginning. It just gets better from here.”

Sowe was asked how he felt about receiving the award as Player of the Year.

“It just shows you that all the hard work and dedication I put in over the last four years has paid off,” Sowe said. “I wasn’t expecting the award. I’m glad to be Player of the Year. I really didn’t have a great year, so I wasn’t expecting anything big like this. I guess it shows what kind of player I am to receive this recognition.”

Harrison head coach Mike Rusek believes that the best is still ahead for his now-former star pupil.

“He’s the most explosive scorer of any kid I ever coached,” Rusek said. “I think he’s opened up a lot of doors recently. After the season was over, I contacted Paul O’Donnell (the coach of the Red Bulls’ U-17 squad and a former high school teammate of Rusek’s at Kearny High) and told him about Omar. He said he would give the kid another look and it’s worked out. After this tournament in Florida, he’s received interest from schools like Clemson and Wake Forest.”

However, Sowe might not have the grades necessary to play NCAA Division I soccer.

“We’re trying to think of the best options for Omar,” Rusek said. “We just have to find the right one.”

Maybe it just might be sticking with the Red Bull Academy squad.

“I feel like it’s a new chapter of my life that started at Harrison High,” Sowe said. “The last four years got me prepared to take the next step and do something with my soccer career. It’s a new year and I feel like it’s a new me. So far, so good. After that showcase with the Red Bulls, I’ve had so many people contact me. It’s a great opportunity.”

Rusek feels only one sense of remorse.

“My only disappointment is that we didn’t get a state sectional championship with Omar,” Rusek said. “I wanted to get him one and get him to a state final and it didn’t happen. I think this was his best year, because he took on a leadership role. He was an excellent team captain and battled through injuries in order to play for us.  This year has been a breakthrough year for Omar.”

Sowe became the third Blue Tide player to ever receive the Player of the Year award, joining Cristhian Acuna and Sowe’s older brother Modou.

“They were our three best players,” Rusek said. “They deserved the honor.”




Harrison senior Omar Sowe (left) received the New Jersey Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association’s sectional Player of the Year award from his head coach, Mike Rusek. Photo by Jim Hague



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”