Silver linings in nonconference prepare ISU soccer team for Big 12


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

No. 13 senior defender Jessica Reyes traps a ball during Iowa State’s 3-0 loss to Iowa on Sept. 6 at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City.

Alex Gookin

When the ISU soccer team packed up to travel to California for matchups against now-No. 20 Santa Clara and No. 2 Stanford, the team was 4-2 coming off a 4-0 win against North Dakota.

When the Cyclones returned to Ames from that trip, they were 4-4 and lost by a combined score of 8-2. Yet ISU coach Wendy Dillinger’s smile was a little bigger and she was even more positive when speaking following the losses.

Two games later, the Cyclones were 6-4 with two shutout wins. Suddenly, the eyesore on the schedule appeared to be a blessing in disguise heading into Big 12 play.

“Our trip to California definitely helped prepare us,” Dillinger said. “I think it showed some things that we needed to work on. … That was kind of the point of going out there, was to see where we are and see what we needed to do heading into conference play.”

Last season, the Cyclones headed into their Big 12 schedule with a 7-3 record, losing to two ranked teams and in-state rival Iowa. This season, Iowa State has lost to two ranked teams, Iowa and top-20 RPI Minnesota.

Coincidentally, last season’s squad was on a two-game win streak heading into a home conference game against a Texas team.

The result was a 4-0 loss to Texas, but Dillinger is looking for no repeat of last season.

“I’m confident,” Dillinger said. “We have quite a few seniors on the field and our youngsters have gotten good experience thus far.”

Senior defender Jessica Reyes is one of those senior leaders that has seen the young team grow.

As the only senior on the back line, Reyes often plays alongside a constantly rotating line of freshmen and underclassmen.

With four shutouts recorded this season and three assists and a goal in the stat book for the back line, she believes the rotation is working.

“We have a really large and talented freshman class,” Reyes said. “There is a lot of speed. There are a lot more options to put on the field, so we know no matter who comes off the bench, we are going to have a solid team.”

Freshmen Kourtney Camy and Madison Ott have played significant minutes defensively this season. Ott, standing at 5 feet 6 inches, recorded an assist earlier this season and has played in eight games so far.

Camy, on the other hand, is all of 5 feet 10 inches and has played in nine games this season with eight starts. Aside from being a long-legged defender, Camy launched a shot over the goalkeeper’s head against Northern Iowa that sealed Iowa State’s win.

Heading into conference play, Dillinger sees Camy as an important piece to win games and improve on last year’s 1-7 conference record.

“She naturally fits into the Big 12 just because of the level of experience she has had through her youth programs,” Dillinger said of Camy. “She’s also big, physical, dynamic and a good defender, so I think if you combine all those elements together you have a good fit for this league.”

The Cyclones will take on Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Friday at the Cyclone Soccer Complex.