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DLN ALL-AREA: Downingtown East’s Steigerwald came through when it counted

A natural goalscorer may be a hard thing to define, but easy to recognize when you see it on the field.

Downingtown East’s Emma Steigerwald has become that kind of player, equally as dangerous with either of her feet or her head. She scores goals — a lot of them — and that prolific scoring has led her to be named the Daily Local News Girls Soccer All-Area Player of the Year.

“I love being the main scorer,” said Steigerwald. “To score to win a game is shuch a thrill.”

She won games with increasing regularity this past season, Six of her 28 goals came in overtime, as she became one of the most feared strikers in the area.

You could see the potential when she was a freshman getting meaningful minutes on a very good team.

“She worked hard and has improved on running at players one-on-one,” said East coach Craig Reed. “Very few players in the district have her strength and athleticism.”

Add in a quick release that only needs a small amount of space to get off, and Steigerwald has weapons to burn.

The accolades for Steigerwald included being named Ches-Mont League National Division Player of the Year as well as a spot on the all-state team.

“This was my best year at East,” the junior said. “It was so much fun and we can’t wait for next year.”

Being the target player brought an increasing amount of scrutiny from opposing defenses. She saw a steady diet of man-marking, but through skill and determination, she steadily started to impose her will.

“I developed so much mentally and physically from when I was a freshman,” she said. “I test myself in practice and that helps me handle the man-marking.”

Of her many goals on the season, the one that stood out for Steigerwald came against a league rival.

“The goal against Rustin was one of my favorites,” said Steigerwald. “It was in double overtime and Maddie Eckels played a long ball from the defense and I scored on a breakway.”

“She was unlucky and they defended for nearly 100 minutes,” Reed added. “But, to beat two players and score showed character and leadership.”

For Reed, though, a game much earlier provided the entry in his highlight reel.

“It was the first game of the season against Villa Joseph Marie, one of the top teams in the state, and she got around a player and scored in the upper 90,” he said. “She scored one of the nicer goals I have seen in my time at East.

“She may have bigger goals, but not many better.”

Talking to Steigerwald, you hear the joy she has when she speaks about playing, along with a highly competitive nature, you have the makings of a very successful player.

“She’s fun and she likes to clown around, but she is is extremely competitive and is extremely coachable,” Reed said. “We asked her to do things that were out of her comfort zone, and she did them without a complaint.”

The one thing she wants to work on for next season is her ability to score from 25 yards and beyond on her free kicks.

When told that, Reed chuckled. “That shows you what kind of high expectations she has, because she’s pretty good at free kicks now.”

Soccer was a family affair for Steigerwald, as her father played in high school, as well as her older brothers.

One thing that she won’t be facing in the coming year is a recruiting battle. Steigerwald has already committed to James Madison University, something she got out of the way as a sophomore.

“I just loved the campus and felt very comfortable there,” she said.

With a talented nucleus returning, Steigerwald is excited for the Cougars’ prospects for next season.

And the one thing you should be used to seeing is the name Emma Steigerwald on the top of the scoring leader charts.

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