There is a lot that goes into being an effective soccer player. Speed, skill and strength all rank towards the top of that list.
West High sophomores Emma Cooper and Regan Steigleder check most of the boxes on the list required for individual achievement.
When it comes to team success, Steigleder and Cooper agree that one component ranks above the others: team chemistry. Thanks in part to Cooper and Steigleder, the Women of Troy had it this season.
“After a couple of games we realized that our chemistry as a team was really, really good and we worked really well together,” Steigleder said. “Every game we kept building and building our chemistry and our confidence, with every win we kept getting better and at the end of the year we feel like we peaked. I think chemistry really held us together and helped us a lot.”
That chemistry helped make Steigleder and Cooper one of the most dangerous scoring duos in the state this season.
It also made West High state champions.
Steigleder and Cooper combined for 49 goals this spring, leading West High to a 20-2 record and the second state title in program history.
For all their accomplishments, Cooper and Steigleder have been named the Press-Citizen’s 2015 girls’ soccer athletes of the year.
“We came together really well, our chemistry this season was amazing and that was a big part of our success,” Cooper said. “We knew our styles of play and we knew what we needed to do to be a team.”
Both Steigleder and Cooper had memorable rookie campaigns in 2014.
They were the top two goal scorers as freshman on a team that won 16 matches and advanced to the state tournament.
This season they both wanted more.
More wins, more goals and more chemistry.
“We knew we had to compensate for the loss of some really strong players from last year so we started playing as a team rather than relying on individual players and certain positions and I think that brought us together as a team a lot,” Cooper said. “We worked as a team, we didn’t work as a collection of individual people.”
The chemistry started with Cooper and Steigleder.
Last season was the first extended action for the duo on the same squad.
This season the connection came quickly for the two.
“Both of them have played a lot of soccer above and beyond their ages both in club and when they play pickup they play at a different pace, they play at a different understanding level. What is nice this year is they have had an opportunity to work with each other,” West High coach David Rosenthal said. “These are two players that really haven’t played with each other except for high school ball so that is part of the chemistry piece.”
With the chemistry in place the results quickly followed.
Cooper, a dynamic scoring forward and Michigan commit, finished with a team-high 25 goals this season and added seven assists.
Only once this season did Cooper fail to register a goal or an assist in a match that she competed in and had six multi-goal performances.
Steigleder was equally impressive.
The Vanderbilt commit scored 24 goals and added nine assists from her center-midfield spot.
Steigleder scored more than one goal five times this season, exploding for four goals on three separate occasions.
“Both of them are players that say go ahead and give me the ball I’ll take over the game,” Rosenthal said. “I’ll take players on one-on-one but I also have other weapons. I can finish the ball, I can create great passing lanes, I can feed the ball through with the proper weight and those are the types of things that they have trained a lot of years to be in that position.”
The individual skills helped the duo post impressive statistics but both said it was the team chemistry that helped the Women of Troy claim its first state title since 2004.
Cooper said this year’s team that knocked off top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling 1-0 in the Class 3A title game was “like a family.”
Steigleder said the chemistry came early on.
“I think it surprised everyone how quickly we came together but we have a lot of team leaders,” Steigleder said. “We don’t have any one team leader, we are all leaders, we all put input into on the team instead of just one leader talking. We all stepped up this year and worked really well together. Everyone on our team stepped up.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
• Grade: Sophomore
• Goals: 25
• Assists: 7
• Accomplishments: A first-team all-state selection, Cooper led the Women of Troy in goals for the second consecutive season. The 41st goal of Cooper’s prep career proved to be the game-winner in a 1-0 win over West Des Moines Dowling Catholic in the Class 3A state title match. Cooper was at her best in the postseason and had a hand in half (6 goals, 2 assists) of West High’s 16 goals in the regional and state tournaments.
• Grade: Sophomore
• Goals: 24
• Assists: 9
• Accomplishments : Steigleder earned first-team all-state honors and was named the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division athlete of the year. Had a goal or an assist in 15 of West High’s 20 matches this season, including goals in each of the Women of Troy’s first two state tournament wins. Steigleder had the game-winning goal in double overtime in a 2-1 state quarterfinal win over Waukee.