As she begins her junior season at the University of Minnesota, Gophers center midfielder Josee Stiever has higher expectations set for her in all aspects of the game.
Not only was she named to the Big Ten Players to Watch list for the second year in a row, Stiever is also expected to make a bigger impact both on and off the field in her role as an upperclassman.
“She’s been one of our most consistent players her first two years,” Minnesota head coach Stefanie Golan said. “Now that she’s an upperclassman, she has two classes below her looking up to that.”
Stiever said being an upperclassman allows her to lead by example for her younger teammates, especially those who play her position.
Her consistency on the field during games extends to Stiever’s efforts to improve as a player during training and the offseason.
Stiever played with collegiate and international players on the Dayton, Ohio, Dutch Lions of the W-League this summer, an experience she credits with improving her technicality and speed.
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Stiever said she has focused on taking risks on the attack and not playing back all the time.
Golan said she’s already impressed with Stiever’s aggressiveness this season.
“[In the Gophers game against Marquette University Sept. 4] there were a couple of moments where she got the ball at her feet in a tight space,” Golan said. “She was able to solve it and come away with it and attack and put us in a position to be able to get dangerous.”
Switching positions from defensive to center midfielder after her freshman season meant Stiever took on more responsibility defending and creating scoring opportunities for Minnesota.
“She has so many responsibilities as a center midfielder,” junior forward and fellow midfielder, Simone Kolander said. “We ask a lot of her.”
Off the field, Stiever has a “fun, crazy personality,” said Kolander, who is Stiever’s roommate.
When it comes to the game, however, Stiever is all business.
“She just gets into her zone,” Golan said. “She’s one of the most consistent kids that you’ll get, and it’s because she has that zone and she knows what it takes for her to be successful.”
After a weekend trip to Milwaukee, Wis., to play against Marquette University — during which the team had dinner at her house in Cedarburg, Wis. — Stiever is ready to live
up to the expectations placed upon her.
“One of my goals is just to make everyone around me better,” Stiever said. “I’m in the center of the field, so I have really good vision. I can see everyone, so I just like to get everyone involved.”
Golan’s projection for Stiever is even larger.
“For me, Josee is one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten,” Golan said. “We were shocked last year that she didn’t get recognized on any of the All-Big Ten teams.”