Like a jigsaw that can fit into multiple puzzles, Christian Steidle of the men’s soccer team has proven to be the versatile key that led the Pride to victories over Westfield State, Gordon College and Stevens Institute of Technology this past week.
“My role is just whatever the team needs, I’ve been here for awhile so I know the culture.” the senior defender claims.
Capitalizing on his performance against Steven’s on Sunday, September 10th, where he played the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 victory, Steidle was recognized by Springfield College as the Maroon Club Athlete of the week.
Steidle’s 90 minute push was notable because less than 24 hours before the Ducks and the Pride faced off at the DeBaun Athletic Complex, Springfield was in an overtime expedition against Westfield State on home soil.
The previous day’s game came to an end 1:55 minutes into overtime when Brad Deckel fronted Sean Moore, who stood in the goal, for a penalty kick. Finding the net, the Pride walked away with a 1-0 victory maintaining their perfect record of 3-0, heading into Sunday’s game against Steven’s.
The Pride got on the board first against the Ducks in the 20th minute, after a connection from Harry Davis and Douglas Enga. Steven’s answered back with 25:58 remaining in the first half, after a deflection off of Danny Nasti that would miraculously end up being a goal.
Approximately 40 minutes into the duel on Sunday, Steidle started feeling the fatigue. Charlie Argyle, a rising leader for the Pride, subbed on in ‘left mid’ for senior Curtis Bolduc and started realizing Steidle’s mental lapses in his play.
“Because of Chucks communication I was able to stay on,” Steidle declared. “He was holding me accountable.”
While holding someone accountable may have a bad ring to it, Steidle begs to differ. He explains that this is the foundation that the soccer culture has created.
The senior commends the 2017 team for the supplement of leaders.
“Ideally it’s everyone [who leads]. Especially for the [captains] and seniors on the team because all the younger players and freshmen are looking up to us,” Steidle said. He continues and says that the freshman are essentially studying the veterans by watching them in competitive moments.
“They’re going to act how we act,” he said.
And that proved so on Sunday in the second half.
With the clock dwindling towards zero in regulation playing time, the Pride and the Ducks were neck and neck in a 1-1 game. Steidle, feeling the mental exhaustion nearing 90 straight minutes of playing time, had no hiatus in the fresh legs of offensive Steven’s players being rotated into his side in hopes of driving towards Stewart Frank who stood between the poles for the Pride.
“Body language,” screamed a new addition to the 2021 class.
Garrett Ossolinski, the voice in which was directed at Steidle, was holding his teammate accountable.
“He’s kind of like my mentor,” Ossolinski said. “He took me under his wing and was making sure that I was learning the tactics so when I would go in I’d be prepared. He didn’t have to do it for me, he just naturally did it.”
In that moment Steidle admits, he wasn’t doing what he should have. The Pride uphold a standard of good body language regardless of errors or stellar plays, because it is contagious. As Steidle liked to put it, they should be walking around like they’re ‘the man’.
The atmosphere began to intensify as Steven’s students flooded the stadium with curiosity of who will pull the victory. Overhead lights began to flick on as the late Sunday sun dipped below the New York City skyline, just visible from the distance that is Hoboken, New Jersey.
Steidle pushed the final minutes of his defensive game waiting for the upfield magic, that is the Pride’s offense, to capitalize.
“We’re so talented up top, we know we’re going to put one in,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”
With 10:47 left in the second half, Argyle headed the ball into an open net. The Pride erupted in predetermined victory, the field players ran to the sideline to celebrate the goal with the remainder of the team.
The header proved to be the game winner as the Ducks did not rally for their own.
“Steven’s has incredible offensive players, especially on [Steidle’s] side,” Springfield College men’s soccer Head Coach Steffen Siebert claimed. “His shining moment was that the offensive players [on Steven’s] never had a shining moment.”
When asked how Steidle managed to perform in all 90 minutes, despite the lags that Argyle and Ossolisnki corrected, he claimed that the feeling wasn’t one that was unfamiliar.
“We just continue to push ourselves to absolute exhaustion,” he said. “Then recover, and do it all over again.”
The Pride have adopted this gritty, merciless style of play which reflects a South African tribe called the Bushmen.
The Bushmen, in modern day, still rely on old fashion hunting tactics that were born thousands of years ago. The hunting tactics include a small group of Bushmen that travel on foot for miles, until they come across a herd of animals. They will run one animal away from the others and chase it relentlessly till they are able to capture it.
The exact logic behind the adopted philosophy is disclosed information according to Siebert.
“We just want to get as good as we can with the time we have,” Steidle explains.
At the end of the 2-1 triumph, all 30 members of the Pride came together in a circle as they do after every game and every practice, and they reflect. This became a tradition in the hopes of incorporating more of the ‘Spirit’ aspect of Springfield College’s motto of “Spirit, Mind, and Body.”
In that moment of reflection, Steidle always thanks God.
Wasting no time following the victory, the Pride returned to work in preparation for their first NEWMAC challenge against Coast Guard which was hosted on Saturday, September 16th.
Despite the 90 minute haul, Steidle was not included in the starting 11.
However, that has proven indifferent to him.
Steidle’s focus isn’t on playing in particular, but rather what roles need to be filled on a game-to-game, even a day-to-day basis.
“I’m usually doing what everyone else needs or what everyone else needs me to be,” Steidle said.
When he doesn’t start, Tim Wood and Steidle start off the game doing a tactical analysis of the other team from the box location on top of the Media room. In other words, what the senior leaders do is they confirm the scouting report of the other team, or they disconfirm it. If disconfirmed, they bring new information to the coaching staff to generate a new game plan.
On the contrary, sometimes the information is that the bench needs more energy, which what it came back as when the Pride faced the Bears on Saturday which resulted in a 3-0 shutout.
“He started his first two years here and now, as a senior, he just wants to help the team and does whatever he can,” Siebert said of Steidle’s dedication to the tactics. “That says a lot about him. Not many seniors on a team will be accepting of that role the way he is.”
Steidles soccer IQ is considerably high making him just as much of a weapon off the field as on.
The off the field IQ has proven to stretch as far as to the classroom.
“I believe Christian is the absolute role model of our characteristics,” Siebert said.
The characteristics include social, school and soccer standards. Examples of those characteristics are sitting in the front of the class and doing your homework. It doesn’t mean getting a 4.0 but just being as good as you can be. Don’t curse and always say please and thank you. The final standard is not arguing with the ref and to always give 100%.
Steidle completed his undergrad in the Spring of 2017 with a 3.7 GPA, and immediately jumped into working towards his doctorate degree in Physical Therapy in a summer session.
Now beginning the regular academic year, his projected graduation is 2020.
Steidle was first introduced to Physical Therapy in his hometown of Owego, NY. Dealing with a multitude of athletic adversity in his pre-collegiate career. His hometown Physical Therapist became a friend and together, avid church goers.
When the time came around that Stiedle had to narrow his academic excellence, Physical Therapy seemed like a natural fit.
Springfield accepted Steidle into both the Athletic Training program and the Physical Therapy program. He was given an ultimatum of doing both, or picking one and continuing with his lifelong passion since the age of five.
Steidle chose soccer.
“Coach Siebert is extremely purposeful in everything he does,” Steidle said. He doesn’t hesitate to include how extremely happy he is that he did not give up soccer.
Upon letting a potential career door close, Steidle came for pre-season as a freshman in the fall of 2013. Nonetheless, Coach Siebert had a different goal in mind for the class of 2018.
“When I was a freshman, we set a goal of winning a National Championship our senior year,” said Steidle.
With utter confidence and determination to achieve his goal, Steidle has adapted to all circumstances this fall. From filling holes in the defense with veteran experience, developing a tactical analysis or being what his teammates need him to be, Steidle has proven to be the missing puzzle piece in all places.