For Madison resident Will Steiner, the game of soccer has essentially been attached to his hip as he's competed since age six when he practiced goalkeeping with siblings. This past fall, Will's dedication to the sport and position came into total fruition as he recorded his finest body of work.
In his final season protecting the net for Fairfield Prep, the senior led the Jesuits to a 13-2-1 regular season mark, an SCC title, and a triumphant run all the way to the Class LL state championship matchup with Norwalk. The Jesuits' netminder then received one of the highest distinctions for a high school athlete, much less someone at his position, when was selected as one of only six keepers in the country to the All-American team. Being honored and humbled, but not forgetting the climb to the distinction, the senior would be remiss if he did not give due praise to those who helped him reach this incredible achievement.
"I am extremely honored to receive the accolade," says Will, who was also named the New Haven Register's All-Area MVP. "It was very nice, but I also give credit to the school and my entire team. They made it easier for me and helped me out a great deal. I have to give credit, as well, to our defenders; they helped me feel very comfortable and relaxed me. They did not make a mistake all year."
He may give attribution to his backfield, but Will undoubtedly rose to the occasion in the postseason. After an SCC Tournament that saw the senior stopper let up one tally in three games, he turned up the heat as state tourney time came around by leading the Jesuits to the championship contest by again only letting up a single goal in four tournament games before the final. Even with the season ending one game short of the ultimate goal, Will knows that the foundation for future success in Fairfield was established this fall.
"We come into each season with the same goals and that's to win SCCs and states," says the goalie, whose club won its second straight SCC crown and reached the first Class LL final in program history. "We took a big step this year and, even though we came up short, I thought we played one of our best games versus Norwalk. It was good for the team and set up a path for the future."
In addition to attending the All-American banquet on Jan. 19 in Indianapolis, the Madison native will also be signing with Villanova University to play keeper for the Wildcats. The accomplishments Will has made his mark with on the field are only the first layer of his success. The Jesuit has also been a cum laude scholar all four years at Fairfield Prep, something the goalie attributes to saving his time wisely.
"The success in school comes from good time management skills," says Will, who plans to study engineering at Villanova. "Our teachers teach us those skills and that there are no excuses not to get the work done. My parents also told me that no one thing is more important there than schoolwork. I just keep my priorities straight and strong."
Family is another component which has brought triumphs on the ball and in the books for the senior. He feels that none of it would have been possible without his family pushing and practicing with him, no matter the sacrifices it meant for the siblings.
"I attribute success to my family. My parents taught me about strong work ethic," says Will. "It also came from my brother and sister practicing soccer with me. Even my sister, who doesn't like soccer too much, still took time to practice with me."
Adds Jesuits' Head Coach Ryan Lyddy: "Will just kept proving to the state that he is an excellent goalie. He really shined in that spotlight that carried us to the state final. I think the fact that we made our first state final in program history was something that also fueled him. He had drive and determination. He really led by example with his work ethic and focus."
While expending mental and physical energy year-round at Prep, Will has taken away a good chunk of knowledge about what it takes to kick yourself to the top of the class on and off the pitch. He felt, in his case, that one facet of his life helped the other.
"The main lesson I have learned is to be focused on your goals because it will pay off in the end," says Will, who thanks parents Peggy and Phil, along with keeper coaches George Kospellis and Paul Pellospritto, and Prep coaches Lyddy and Tim Dee. "Sometimes with all the practices and school work, it is hard to stay focused, but I stick with it. I think that the focus for success I had with soccer also helped me carry it over to school."