Lauren Steimle is really cooking with the women’s soccer team at Washington University in St. Louis.
That statement is true in both the literal and figurative senses. Steimle, a senior from St. Charles, is a key ingredient in the winning recipe coach Jim Conlon has developed for the Bears, who are ranked fourth in the nation among NCAA-Division III schools.
“I think he’s kind of happy with my versatility,” says Steimle, who can play either forward or midfield.
Steimle started 20 of 22 matches as a sophomore, scoring 11 goals, but was slowed last season by painful shin splints. Admitting she’s “still maybe not quite up to 100 percent,” she seems comfortable adding flavor as an extra spice, rather than being a main component.
“I’m usually a sub, so I try to come in off the bench and give a spark,” Steimle said.
Steimle scored a goal in Washington’s season-opening victory at Rhodes College last week, giving her 18 in her collegiate career. She’s No. 13 on the list of career goal scorers at the school.
Steimle played her prep soccer at Elgin Academy, scoring 113 goals, including 39 her season year. She also was a success in the classroom, graduating as the salutatorian of her class and being named Elgin Academy Student of the Year in math, science and computer science.
It wasn’t surprising, then, that schools with outstanding academic reputations, like Northwestern and Case Western Reserve, were interested in having Steimle as a student.
“I was looking to do engineering and I also wanted to play soccer,” Steimle said. “Wash U seemed to the be the best of both worlds.”
Steimle has continued her academic success in college. She has a 3.9 GPA while majoring in systems engineering with a minor in operations management.
“I’m pretty interested in industrial engineering,” she said. “A lot of it is applied mathematics, using that to figure out the best way to do something.”
She sees herself working as an analyst or research person with an industrial firm once her college days are over. In the meantime, she still has plenty of work left to do on the soccer pitch. The Bears are coming off a 19-2-1 season in which both of their losses were to Wheaton College, including a season-ending 3-1 decision in a regional final.
“Our mentality is just kind focusing one game at a time,“ Steimle said. “The rest of it will come. Right now, we’re just focusing on our game [Saturday] against DePauw.”
Steimle is happy with her decision to continue her athletic career in college.
“It’s been great,“ she says. “I think soccer – it’s definitely a different college experience. I think a big part of it is just being part of a team. A lot of my teammates are my best friends. … It’s fun to be able to travel to New York with 20 of your best friends.”
Steimle said trying to be successful both in the classroom and the athletic field eats up a lot of hours in the day, but she still tries to find time for leisure pursuits with her friends and teammates.
“I guess I recently began to explore restaurants in St. Louis,” she said. “I’ve been trying to experiment with cooking. Can’t say I’ve been completely successful.”
That’s certainly a rarity where Steimle is concerned.
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local college athletes deserving of recognition, email him at email@example.com.