Newcomer of the Year: Jacob Stieb
When he looks back on his first year of Webster soccer, Jacob Stieb lights up.
“It was the greatest year of soccer I ever played by a long shot,” Stieb said.
A starter in high school and at Southwest Illinois College (SWIC), Stieb said he never achieved the recognition he received while playing for Webster.
By the season’s end, Stieb’s accolades included first-team All-Conference for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), being named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s All-Region team, Illinois Wesleyan tournament co-MVP and two St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Week nods.
Stieb had the opportunity to start on the team because Webster lacked a backfield after the seniors in those positions graduated, Head Coach Mike Siener said. Stieb used the opportunity to show his coaches how much he could contribute.
“We lost our entire backfield, so it was a wide-open competition for it,” Siener said. “I think our staff started evaluating and watching practice, and he stood out among a handful of others. So he got the starting nod and, to his credit, he held onto it and played well the whole year.”
Siener said for players who transfer to Webster, the transition to a new team can be tough. Siener said the limited time outside of classes and practices makes it hard for new players to get to know their teammates off the field.
But the transition was not too difficult, Stieb said, outside of remembering the names of his teammates.
“I like to use my mouth to coordinate people a lot, so I had to learn everyone’s game and learn their names. That was probably the toughest part (of playing for a new team),” Stieb said. “But building chemistry with everyone was pretty quick and easy.”
Stieb said building a working relationship, with Siener came easily for him as well. Stieb, a passionate player, said that his temper often got the best of him and that he would express frustration about his own mistakes through profanity.
Such expression would sometimes lead to a yellow card, but Siener trusted his center back to behave himself for the rest of the game.
“He does play with a little bit of passion and fire and we talked about that a little bit. But he wouldn’t play every minute of every game if there wasn’t some trust there between him and our staff,” Siener said.
With a year of starting experience in Webster’s backfield under his belt, Stieb said he is “definitely looking forward to next season.”
A self-described “smart player with a good touch” on the ball, Stieb said he will focus his off-season toward building on his recent success by practicing with his former high school and college teams.
“I am expecting another fine season from him,” Siener said.
Runner Up: Hunter Ward, Webster Basketball