It’s no secret that defense has been at the center of the women’s soccer team’s mentality as they’ve built a culture of winning in the UAA over the last few years. The linchpin of any good defensive unit, though, has to be the goalkeeper. That’s why, on the heels of what was an eight-game win streak for the Violets, it has been key for junior goalkeeper Cassie Steinberg to remain steadfast at the back of NYU’s defense all season long. Steinberg, who has started all three years since coming to NYU, is in great form as the team looks to make their second NCAA tournament in a row after not reaching the contest in over a decade.
“I think that a lot of us came into the season with the goal of making the tournament again, just because last year we made it for the first time in 11 or 12 years and we’ve showed a lot of growth in the program,” Steinberg said. “The difference this year is confidence and feeling comfortable with the team, the system we play in, the communication with the coaches.”
The junior from Boca Raton, Florida has stepped up in a big way this year for the Violets, remaining a wall in the back of their defense. Her performance was good enough to earn Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference defensive player of the week last weekend. But aside from the strides she’s made in comfort with the team, it’s been the progress she’s made physically that’s allowed her to turn away opposing forwards at the net. Steinberg, a nutrition and dietetics major in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, has used her studies and her personal affinity for exercise and health to put herself in peak condition to compete.
“My life’s always been surrounded by that kind of stuff, being an athlete,” Steinberg said. “My junior year of high school I started to realize the food that I was eating affected my athletics. I thought that was really interesting and I decided to pursue it.”
Aside from spilling over into her athletic life, her interest in nutrition also affects what she finds herself doing in her free time. She spends a considerable amount of time in one of two places: the kitchen cooking up a healthy meal for her and her teammates, or the gym.
“I love cooking,” Steinberg said. “That’s therapeutic for me. I’ll have a lot of my teammates over for pre-game dinners sometimes. I also just love working out. My friend works at the spin studio, so I go take classes there a lot.”
Her life, a busy combination of academics and athletics, remains tied together by that interest in nutrition. However, at least academically, it comes at the price of having to work twice as hard as most students. While she takes lighter classes on nutrition counseling and nutrient breakdown, she also has to work through some of the most dense chemistry, biology and physiology courses the university has to offer. She’s tailored her class schedule to be a little more friendly during soccer season, not taking the full four courses and one lab class that science majors often do. Instead, she limits herself to four, which allows her to keep up on sleep, which she feels is as important as any other aspect of nutrition.
“I’m huge on going to bed early and having sleep,” Steinberg said. “I get up pretty early and use the mornings to do work. I’m almost always asleep by 10:30.”
With just three UAA games left on the slate, Steinberg and her teammates will have to bear down and focus if they want to live up to the expectations they set of reaching the NCAA tournament and making some noise. Even though she describes the next few games as winnable, the team will have to stay alert and avoid any letdowns that could jeopardize the hard work they’ve put in to get to this point.
Luckily enough, they have Steinberg staying steady between the posts, well-rested and well-conditioned to lead the Violets deeper into the postseason than they have ever been.
A version of this article appeared in the Oct. 26 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]