Big Ten signees Emma Cooper and Regan Steigleder continue Iowa City West's tradition of soccer talent

Hall of Fame coach David Rosenthal has another state contender

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IOWA CITY — David Rosenthal cracks a slight smile when asked just how many girls soccer players the Iowa City West coach has sent off to play collegiately.

“I don’t tend to track that very much,” Rosenthal said. “Quite frankly colleges recruit through clubs now and high schools just happen to be the places they get associated with.”

He’s being modest, of course, his cleanly cut greying beard just as indicative of the 21 years he’s spent at the helm of the program as it is to his wisdom. He knows very well he gets to spend just around three months a year with his team, the other nine taken up by club circuits.

Rosenthal has a good relationship with the various club teams around the region and he knows he’s not alone in the success girls in his program have had. But, at the same time, he is an Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame member and he has two state championships and 15 tournament appearances under his belt.

With the talent on this year’s squad — led by two Division I signees — there’s no small chance that two could become three. Emma Cooper, a forward, is headed to Michigan. Midfielder Regan Steigleder is headed off to Northwestern, where someday she just might see Cooper in a Big Ten match.

It’s a supremely talented group and with the squad sitting at 4-0 on the season, things seem to be working out fairly well.

“Girls come into the program knowing what to expect,” Cooper said. “Team chemistry is crucial and I think that’s been really apparent over the past few years.”

Chemistry was something brought up a number of times by both coach and player. While team chemistry sometimes gets blown off as a cliché, it sometimes does have very real and tangible effects.

Which makes it all the more impressive Cooper and Steigleder, two of the team captains and seniors on the squad play so well together. They aren’t on the same club team and they will likely end up playing one another at some point during their college careers.

Rosenthal didn’t hold back when discussing just how well they fit together.

“I think they’re probably the best duo in the state,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t think you can beat the combination.”

He mentioned there was some question as to whether they would be able to play together at the high school level, but so far that has been proven to be a completely moot point.

Cooper has 66 goals as a Trojan, while Steigleder has 56. Rosenthal doesn’t really like to take a deep dive into stats and will say soccer “isn’t like baseball” as far as stats go, but regardless that’s an impressive figure.

The wins, though, are what matters. West certainly has had plenty of them. Each year the duo has been at West, they’ve been able to make the state tournament, with a championship in 2015.

Then again, it helps to have that sort of talent on a team — club, or otherwise. But this is a new year, a new challenge, one West seems ready to face.

“There’s no reminiscing in the past couple years,” Steigleder said. “Coach has been focusing on how we’re building this year.”

And that, perhaps, will make all the difference.

l Comments: jordan.hansen@thegazette.com

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