Meet Javier and Alejandro Steinwascher. The brothers have formed a dynamic duo, leading Indianapolis in goals scored while also helping the Greyhounds reach the third round of the DII men's soccer championship for the first time in program history.
FOLLOW THE DII MEN'S TOURNAMENT: Schedule, scores, bracket and updates
Not to be outdone, their sister Cecilia has set the tone for Grand Valley State's conference record-setting defense as the Lakers are also back in the third round of the DII women's soccer championship.
The Steinwascher siblings have certainly kept their parents busy in 2019.
There's an added caveat. While No. 9-seeded UIndy looks to pull off its third upset of the tournament on Friday, the No. 1-seeded Lakers will look to avoid one. The team Cecilia will be playing?
DII WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP: Follow the tournament to the championship match
Well, of course, it's UIndy.
“It is a tough one," Javier said as to who he is rooting for on Friday. "I do love my school, but family does come first.”
So, how did we get here? Let's meet the three DII college soccer stars from their upbringing on the pitches of Michigan to being amongst the last few teams looking for a DII soccer championship in 2019.
Growing up as a college soccer family
The Steinwaschers were born with collegiate soccer in their blood. Their mother Teresa played Division I women's soccer at Dayton while their father played at Macomb in Michigan.
"Soccer has always been a huge part of my family’s life," Cecilia — or Cec as she's affectionally known — said. "All three us went straight to soccer events after we were released from the hospital at birth. I wouldn’t change the way my family has grown up with soccer, or the relationships we’ve created with one another through it, for anything in this world. "
Obviously, Alejandro and Javier have had a few chances to play with and against each other over the years, but for Cecilia, it was a bit harder to break into the mix. That's not to say it didn't happen, though.
"There were plenty of chances to be competitive in the backyard pretending we were playing on the United States national team against Peruvian national team in a World Cup final," Cecilia said. "Many fights occurred, and a lot of hard hits were dealt and taken as you’d expect from any siblings who are competitive and want to the best. For as frustrating as it was to play against them, I owe a lot to them. Thanks to my brothers, I am a much better player now than I would have ever imagined."
There was opportunity with intramural and club sports for the three to get together. As part of the Dolphins, the trio saw some time on the pitch together over the years. According to Alejandro, they played about four years together.
As if their parents weren't busy enough — father Henry is the Director of Coaching for the National Soccer Club in Michigan while Teresa still coaches as well — now, they have more decisions to make. Which tournament will they be at this weekend?
“I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you that one yet," Javier said. "I think my mom is coming down to our game on Friday. I don’t know what my dad’s doing yet. He’s coaching five teams right now, I have no idea what kind of schedule that is on the weekend.”
"My mom is superhuman, I have no idea how she does it," Cecilia added. "Throughout our careers, she has always been there, whether it be as our coach in high school, our mom on sidelines rooting us on at the beginning of our soccer careers, or our No. 1 fan and biggest supporter while we are playing in college.
"This weekend, she will be with my brothers because this is Javi’s senior season. She’s got to be there for him and follow him through his last couple of college games. I know she’ll still be supporting [me], that’s what live streams are for."
The holidays were a little different this year. For Cecilia, this time of year is expected, the pats on the back from family becoming commonplace. But for Javier and Alejandro, it was a new experience at the dinner table. One which is "pretty cool."
"For me, it’s special," Javier said. "I’ve never had this success in my career. That’s pretty cool for me alone, but to have my brother and sister in the round of 16 as well, that’s a pretty crazy thing. At Thanksgiving, that was all the talk.”
Which brings us to Friday in the NCAA DII tournaments.
UIndy's program changing 2019 DII men's soccer season
Javier is the elder statesman of the Steinwascher clan. He arrived on the Indianapolis campus in 2016 and in his freshman season, the Greyhounds couldn't escape the GLVC tournament. The following year, UIndy won a conference championship but lost to Maryville in the first round of the NCAA DII tournament. The Greyhounds suffered the same fate in 2018, exiting the championship in the first round from a Maryville loss.
“It’s been an unreal experience," Javier said. "I remember two years ago when we made it to the tournament. We had a ton of chances in that second half that on any other day could have gone off the post and in. To finally get a little bit of that luck now has been nice. I won a conference championship here, but winning the first round of the NCAA championships it’s more monumental because of that curse the school had when it comes to that first round.”
Javier and Alejandro are actually one of two sets of brothers on the team. Jakub and Patryk Olczyk also have helped UIndy get to this point. In fact, Alejandro, Javier and Jakub hooked up on both goals in the 2-0 upset of No. 1-seeded Lake Erie to advance to the third round.
That family bond has rubbed off on this team like never before.
“The chemistry we have is unreal," Alejandro said. "My brother is a senior, and since I’m his brother, I hang out with him and the seniors all the time, which in turn helps my sophomore class. The seniors also took in the new freshmen and have accepted everyone for who they are.
“Next season will definitely be hard. But the juniors we have this year will be the same as these seniors. They looked up to this class of seniors, and now they will expect to get back to the round of 16. It’s the expectation now and probably for the rest of UIndy history.”
Cecilia's game-changing defense anchors the GVSU run
For Cecilia, it's more of the same in 2019, but just a little different. The Lakers are that DII women's soccer powerhouse that they have been for pretty much the entirety of the 2000s so far. But this year they did it without allowing a goal in conference play.
SHUTOUT STREAK: Here's how GVSU reeled off 13-straight shutouts
Cecilia is a large part of that. She's the two-time GLIAC Defensive Player of the Year amongst a bevy of other accolades from All-American to All-Regional teams. This year, the Lakers posted 13-straight shutouts including all nine games in GLIAC play. That's right, the Lakers swept through conference play literally a perfect 9-0 without allowing a single goal.
"Halftime of the last regular-season game at Davenport when our coach, Jeff [Hosler], told us we had a chance to be the first team to ever shutout the GLIAC was when the whole team was aware of the streak," Cecilia said. "I feel our team did play a lot stronger in that second half to keep it going. We wanted it and we worked for it."
Now, her Grand Valley State Lakers have to take on her brothers' UIndy Greyhounds to advance to the quarterfinals. But that match on her pitch won't change a thing for who she roots for in the men's tournament.
"I want my brothers to win it all," Cecilia said. "They work so hard and deserve everything they are earning right now. Especially my older brother, Javi. This kid, man, is he amazing. He’s killing it his senior season, and making history while he’s at it."
The best Steinwascher in DII college soccer
Javier is set to end his collegiate career as a key contributor on the team that defined a program. Cecilia will have one more year to add to her many personal accolades and the almost mythical Grand Valley State women's soccer lore. Alejandro continues to grow and will have an opportunity to carry on a tradition his brother started that will become the expectation for future Greyhounds.
But what we really want to know is which Steinwascher has the ultimate edge.
Picture if you would a breakaway. Javi and Alejandro are sprinting towards the goal and the only thing in their way is their beloved sister. Who wins out?
“Oh, I am," Javier said without question. "She’s had to grow up playing against me and Al her entire life. I have that mental edge on her.”
“I’m going to have to disagree with him there," Alejandro said. "Stop him, yes. Stop me, no.”
"Oh definitely me," Cecilia said. "If [Javier] beats me on the dribble, I’d just foul him to make sure he didn’t score the breakaway. Alex on the other hand, he’s too athletic for me to catch. Sorry Javi, Alex has us both beat on athleticism."
While the DII soccer season is in its final weekends, it certainly doesn't look like this family rivalry is dying down any time soon.