GVSU goalkeeper Jen Steinaway dominates in net, overcomes injury

GVL / Emily Frye
Jennifer Steinaway during the National Championship finals game on Saturday Dec. 3, 2016.

GVL / Emily Frye Jennifer Steinaway during the National Championship finals game on Saturday Dec. 3, 2016.

Arpan Lobo

After missing her entire freshman season due to a torn Achilles Tendon in 2015, Grand Valley State University women’s soccer goalkeeper Jen Steinaway bounced back by accumulating an impressive 23-2-1 record in net.     

The Pinckney, Michigan, native made 26 total starts in 2016. After being redshirted from her injury in 2015, Steinaway would go on to play most of her redshirt sophomore season. Having played just over 100 minutes over the course of her first two years with the Lakers, locking down the starting goalkeeper position also came with some learning experiences along the way.   

“Up until last year, I was kind of just a practice player,” Steinaway said. “(I was) learning the position as well as I could, but I didn’t get game experience. It was totally different.”   

Steinaway made her first collegiate start against California State, San Bernardino, last season. Using the experience from her time in net has given Steinaway confidence as the Lakers get ready for their fourth season under head coach Jeff Hosler.   

“I learned from every game and every mistake by watching film to try and build and be the best player I could,” Steinaway said. “Now, leading up to this year, I feel like a completely different player. I’ve learned so much. Obviously, each team is different, but it helped getting that year under my belt so I could be prepared for this year.”   

The Lakers graduated several talented seniors after the 2016 season, including defensive stalwart and current Grand Rapids Football Club player Clare Carlson. Adapting to a new backline is something that Steinaway has spent time on during the preseason.   

“We graduated a lot of good players and a lot of starters, but throughout the two weeks that we’ve been together, there have been a lot of players that have stepped up really well,” Steinaway said. “It’ll take time to get the chemistry that last year’s team had, but I think we’re on the right track.”   

Twelve incoming freshman joined the Laker program for the 2017 season. Being able to gel with each other as teammates off the field is something that will help on it, Steinaway said.   

“I think just being together and building off each other’s energy really calms each other’s nerves,” Steinaway said.  “We genuinely like to hang out with each other.”   

Steinaway will anchor a Lakers team that enters the season ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division II Coaches’ Poll. The Lakers rank behind the team that beat them in the National Championship game last season, Western Washington. Despite the lofty ranking, Steinaway thinks that the team’s focus isn’t too far ahead. 

“Obviously, the National Championship is on our radar, but for right now, I think it’s one game at a time,” Steinaway said. “It’s definitely a motivator and gets us going, but for right now, it’s one game at a time.”   

That attitude has helped the team and particularly Steinaway’s fellow goalkeepers in camp.  Despite returning as the starting keeper, she knows that competition will be fierce throughout the season.   

“There’s going to be four of us competing for that spot,” Steinaway said. “Someone could be named the starter, but absolutely the three others are pushing that person to possibly take their spot.”  

Steinaway added that while she did start every game last year, she split time with Paige Pryson, another goalkeeper who is entering her senior year. The competition in preseason has made Steinaway and her teammates ready to get back on the field.    

“We’re all fit, and we’re all ready to go,” Steinaway said. “It makes our job easier going into the next weeks so we don’t have to catch up.”   

Steinaway and the Lakers open their season in Louisville, Kentucky, with a heavyweight matchup against No. 3 Columbus State Friday, Sept. 1, followed by a contest against Bellarmine.