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The Journal October 15-28, 2009

Steiner leads charge for WU Leadership, dedication are common themes in description of Gorloks’ senior midfielder BY JONATHAN WEBB Sports Editor

Jenna Steiner is the Gorloks’ picture of stability. What else would you expect from someone who describes their position as “a chicken running around with its head cut off?” The senior midfielder for the Webster University women’s soccer team has been able to manage the chaos of her position on the field, while also assuming a primary leadership role. It’s a position she was eager to take on in her final season at WU. But coach Luigi Scire said that quality didn’t simply materialize this year. “She’s been a leader since her sophomore year,” Scire said. “She’s been a captain, which speaks very highly to her approach of the game.”

SAM DITTMANN / The Journal

Senior midfielder Jenna Steiner kicks a ball upfield against the Principia College Panthers in a 5-3 loss Oct. 6. Steiner has one goal and six assists while leading in nine games while anchoring the midfield for the Gorloks. Steiner is one of four seniors on this year’s team, but is only one of two who have spent four years with WU.

HALF PLAYER, HALF TEACHER In person, Steiner in no way resembles what she is on the field. Words such as relaxed, thoughtful and easy-going come to mind when discussing her off-the-field mannerisms. Away from the soccer field, Steiner spends her time leading a very different group. The senior education major is currently observing elementary school classes as she prepares to teach after her graduation this coming spring. Steiner, who would prefer to teach third-graders, said the youthful exuberance of children is what excites her most about teaching. “The age of kids I want to work with have a big heart,” Steiner said. “They want to come to school and learn.” According to her teammates, it didn’t take long for Steiner to assert her leadership on a soccer field. “Jenna was a leader as soon as she stepped on the field for WU,” said senior midfielder Dana Vahey. Vahey is one of only two players, along with senior defender Kristin Garlich, to play all four years alongside Steiner for the Gorloks. Steiner maintains her desire to teach while on the pitch. But her relaxed demeanor is forgotten when No. 16 is on her back, and “Gorloks” is printed on the front of her jersey. “She’s a very intense individual,” Scire said. “No one can ever tell me

that Jenna will not run through a brick wall for you.” Steiner’s leadership is noticeable when she’s on the field, but its absence is glaring when she isn’t. Steiner was unavailable in a recent 2-0 win against Blackburn College, and WU had difficulty generating offense and distributing the ball from the middle of the field in her absence. “You never have a time where you have to think after a game and say, ‘Where was Jenna,” Scire said. “When she’s not in the lineup, we miss that.” A FACE IN THE CROWD Meanwhile, Steiner is not one to reap individual acclaim for her performance. While teammates such as the junior forward tandem of Megan Niederschulte and Christy Capkovic receive notoriety for their gaudy goal totals, Steiner can often be found in the middle of the fray, creating opportunities for others. “The biggest part of being in the midfield is having confidence in your teammates,” Steiner said. For her teammates, the confidence is mutual. “She is a non-selfish player, which makes her such an important component on our team,” Niederschulte said. Steiner’s unselfish play was evident last week, in the Gorloks’ 5-3 loss to St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Principia College. With the Gorloks already leading 1-0, Capkovic gathered a pass from the midfield, and nudged it past Principia goaltender Mel Stein for a 2-0 lead. But what set up that goal will be remembered by few fans, if even noticed. Steiner pilfered the ball from a Principia midfielder, maneuvered toward the outside to create a passing lane, and delivered the ball directly ahead of Capkovic for the goal. It was another example of Steiner’s work creating scoring opportunities for the team, sans personal recognition. “She sets the tone, not only for herself, but for her teammates,” Scire said. “Those are those innate abilities that lead to our success.” Contact the writer:

WU men win fifth straight contest Gorloks set season-high in goals with 4-2 home victory over Blackburn College


What a difference a little time can make. The Webster University men’s soccer team has gone from rags to riches in the past month, rebounding from an 0-5-1 record to being undefeated in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Gorloks are now 4-0 after a 1-0 victory over eighthranked Principia College on Tuesday, Oct. 6 in Elsah, Ill. WU is also on a five-game winning streak after a victory over Blackburn College in a nonconference match Tuesday, Oct. 13. The Gorloks were sluggish in the first half, giving up two goals, but stormed back in the second to blank the Beavers for the final 45 minutes. “We got off to a slow start and weren’t really playing our game in the first half,” said assistant coach Corey Haney. “But, they responded and came together. And that’s what it’s all about.” The Gorloks started the season on the slow side, playing six matches without a single win. Coach Marty Todt has been referring to the team’s “forward progress” since the beginning of the season. WU’s progress has come a long way as they are starting to playlike a team capable of topping the SLIAC standings. “I think part of it is (timing),” said senior midfielder Bryce Johnson. “We were really in all the first five matches we lost. It was just a matter of trying to make it click for 90 min-

SAM DITTMANN / The Journal

Senior forward Michael Riti jumps over Blackburn College defender Brock Eddings, for the head ball. The Gorloks beat the Beavers 4-2 Oct. 13 at AnheuserBusch Soccer Park.

utes. The goal is to work all the kinks out and really mesh as a unit. I think we’re starting to do that.” The Gorloks have had a well-deserved break from their strenuous conference schedule, as the game on Saturday, Oct. 10 was canceled due to wet field conditions.

“We all know that conference matches are the important ones,” said senior forward Mike Riti. “But, every game is important. It’s important to play hard and build off of each game.” The Gorloks hope to take the momentum of their-five game winning streak into Louisville, Ken., next week for their

next conference match against the 9-2 Golden Eagles of Spalding University. “Everything we do is in preparation for our next conference match,” Johnson said. “We have a huge match against Spalding in Kentucky and we have to be ready for that one. It’s going to be a battle.”

WU’s next match will be at Spalding University Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in Louisville. Contact the writer:

From the Bench:

SLIAC leaves much to be desired

JONATHAN WEBB No matter what sport is being played, no matter what season, there is one constant that becomes painfully obvious when following Webster University Athletics­ — the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) is one sorry conference. WU has been fortunate to have one of the strongest athletic programs among St. Louisarea four-year colleges and universities. At least it appears that way in comparison with the rest of the SLIAC’s rag-tag bunch. Certainly, WU has been able to bring in talented athletes from cities and towns throughout the nation. But team individual and team accomplishments are often inflated by poor competition. When WU sees competition outside the SLIAC, the results are not so glamorous. During the 2008-2009 campaign, WU’s baseball, volleyball and women’s soccer teams garnered at least a share of the regular-season conference title. But none of the three advanced far afterward, with the baseball and women’s soccer teams bowing out in the SLIAC tournament, and the volleyball team getting bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is a common theme, as WU has routinely gained accolades and playoff berths from the SLIAC, but are no longer competitive when they make their foray into tournaments and games against non-conference opponents. It’s no secret. As opposed to what is often the norm for a collegiate team, conference play is not a step up in competition for WU, but rather a reprieve. Performance in conference play is crucial, of course, in order to advance to the postseason. But schedules at WU do not advance incrementally. Rather, they often see tough, non-conference opponents at the beginning of the season, followed by the conference letdown, and then finishing with a postseason match resembling one of the challenging early-season opponents. This became glaringly apparent last weekend, when the WU volleyball team hosted a tri-match against Central College and Elmhurst College. WU currently has a 29-match winning streak against SLIAC opponents. They have not had a SLIAC opponent take them to the maximum five sets this season. It’s been a relative cakewalk. But against Central and Elmhurst, the Gorloks saw defeat twice in a day, winning only one of seven sets. It wasn’t always this way for WU. In the conference’s first decade, WU was commonly a doormat in a bevy of sports. But since the turn of the millenium, WU has built its program to become competent ant the Division III level. So WU is at a crossroads. They’re no longer pushed by the SLIAC in multiple sports, yet would be unlikely to excel in other conferences within the Division III classification. The SLIAC is good for the Gorloks to an extent. It’s always nice to add another year to those banners hanging in Grant Gymnasium. WU athletes have worked hard for their accolades, and should be lauded for their achievements. However, each year featuring a matchup against a different, more battle-tested team from outside the SLIAC reveals that a conference title is not necessarily as impressive as it sounds. Contact the writer:

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Senior forward Michael Riti jumps over Blackburn College defender Brock Eddings, for the head ball. The Gorloks beat the Beavers 4-2 Oct. 13...