ISU soccer to lean on experience, youth against Texas Tech


Freshman forward Koree Willer, No. 2, and senior midfielder Meredith Skitt, No. 14, fight off an Iowa player during Friday night’s game at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. The Cyclones lost to the Hawkeyes 3-0 and are now 3-2 in the season.

Beau Berkley

Soccer’s nonconference schedule has concluded, and now the road to the Big 12 tournament begins.

The Cyclones (6-4) welcome No. 15 Texas Tech to the Cyclone Sports Complex on Friday at 7 p.m. and are hoping to have a reversal of fortune from last season and start the conference slate of games with a win.

Last season, Iowa State walked away from conference play with only one win under its belt, failing to reach the Big 12 tournament. Coming out prepared against not just Texas Tech, but against every team, will be a big focus.

“Each game in the league matters; each one is as equally important as the other. There’s not one that’s more important than the other, and there is a lot of parity in our league, and it’s always been that way,” said ISU coach Wendy Dillinger. “It’s important that we come out strong [and] take advantage of our opportunities that we create.”

Midfielder Meredith Skitt has been with the ISU program for four years and has yet to have a shot at a Big 12 title. Skitt, along with the seven other seniors on the team, is hoping this is the year they achieve their goal.

“The past three seasons, that’s been our goal — to go to the Big 12 tournament — and we have yet to reach that,” Skitt said. “So I think that’s our major goal this year, but not only that, but to do well and finish in the top half of the conference.”

Even with an experienced roster, the Cyclones still maintain a youthful squad. There are currently 12 freshmen on the team and one sophomore.

Making her presence known early is freshman Koree Willer. Through 10 games, Willer is second in goals with three and tied for second in assists with two.

The player ahead of Willer in those statistical categories is Jennifer Dominguez. With seniors like Dominguez, making the transition to collegiate soccer has been smoother for Willer.

“Just the leadership and having people to look up to is huge and has made coming here so much easier and just having that kind of sets an example for what we’ll have to do,” Willer said.

As for first-game jitters, Willer feels the tough nonconference schedule has made her mentally prepared for conference play.

“It’s kind of nerve-racking, but I think getting to play teams like Stanford and Santa Clara was definitely helpful,” Willer said. “So I’m not necessarily going in not knowing what to expect because we have played high-caliber teams.”