Todd Jewell recieves his www.Fish4Scores.com T-Shirt and Gift Card to Rossi’s Bar and Grill from Chip Rossi. Photo by Michael A. Sabo
By Rich Fisher
Every team needs a hot goalie to do well in tournament play. That’s especially true for teams with losing records.
Enter, Todd Jewell.
The Steinert boys’ soccer team was able to amass just two goals in its first two Mercer County Tournament games. They were enough for two wins, however, as the 12th-seeded Spartans defeated 5th-seeded Robbinsville, 1-0, in overtime and then took down 4th-seeded Trenton, 1-0, in the quarterfinals before falling to top-seeded Pennington, 3-0.
Jewell was in goal for both shutouts, as well as a scoreless tie against Hamilton on Oct. 17, and in a 2-1 win over Allentown the next day. His 30 saves in the four games produced a 3-0-1 record.
For his efforts, Todd Jewell is the Fish4scores/Rossi’s Athlete of the Week for the week running from Oct. 16-22.
The junior was at his best when it counted most, making eight saves against Robbinsville and 11 against Trenton.
“Todd Jewell was magnificent in goal during the MCT,” coach Anthony Tessein said. “He made all the saves you expect out of a goalkeeper plus more.”
Trenton coach Joe Fink, who was understandably upset that one of his game’s officials was a Steinert coach in another sport, did not let that get in the way of his praise for Jewell.
“Todd played outstanding,” Fink said. “We had our opportunities, we just couldn’t get one past him. He was a big difference in that game.”
Jewell, who is also the Spartans ice hockey goalie, knew going into the tournament he would be a key, as any keeper is.
“As a goalie you need to handle the pressure the right way and not let it get to you,” he said. “I just go out there and do what I have to do to keep that ball out of the net. A lot of times my defense helps me with the pressure, too. All of them will go that extra mile to stop someone from going to the net. The defense is amazing and I trust everyone back there.”
He not only trusts them, he lives and dies with them.
“They’re my brothers and I will always have their backs just like they have mine,” Jewell said. “They definitely push me to become a better player. They’ve pushed me to become better, faster, and stronger. I couldn’t ask for a better family to play with.
“I couldn’t have all these shutouts without them. The guys in the back have saved me many times and I will always thank them for that. I couldn’t ask for a better defense. They all work hard and are always hungry for that next win.”
True, a goalie is often times only as good as the guys in front of them. But it is Jewell who must direct his defenders and keep order in the box. He must also serve as the last line of defense and bail the team out if necessary. Doing that that comes from diligence. Lots of it.
“He is one of the hardest working players you will ever meet,” Tessein said. “There is nothing about his success that was given to him. He has earned every bit of this because he worked his tail off and when faced with adversity he chose to work even harder.
”Todd is a vocal leader that wears his heart on his sleeve. I used to believe that no one hated losing more than me, but then I met Todd. The kid will do anything he can to win a game.”
He did quite a few things for the Spartans, who entered the MCT with a 4-8-2 record. One of his two biggest saves came with just two minutes remaining in regulation against Robbinsville. He saved the initial shot and then lost his balance as the ball rebounded back into the run of play.
“After I staggered back I was on the six, and a Robbinsville player nailed one towards the goal and thank God I was at the right place at the right time,” he said. “I didn’t even see the shot coming, the ball drilled me right in the face. I couldn’t feel my face the whole night. I was happy I was there to save that, though.”
Although Jewell has been playing well, he is not satisfied and feels there is always room for improvement.
“There are times where after a play is over I tell myself I should have tackled harder, sprinted faster or I should have caught that ball,” he said. “There is always something to improve.”
Jewell has been a goalkeeper all his life, saying “I was always the kid who volunteered to play goalie and I stuck with it. There’s no greater rush than stopping an amazing shot. The adrenaline keeps me going all game.”
It also kept Steinert going, straight into the semifinals when no one thought the Spartans had a chance after entering the MCT at 4-8-2.
“We came into this tournament knowing what we had to do,” Jewell said. “We knew we had to step up to the challenge. Our record does not reflect our potential. We wanted to leave everything we have on the field and show who we really are.”
Todd Jewell certainly did that. Makes it that much more exciting to want to watch him in the states.