Cyclone soccer ready to flip the script in 2012


Photo: Adam Ring/Iowa State Daily

Midfielder Emily Goldstein speaks to the media during media day, Monday, Aug. 13, in Ames. The Cyclones open the season this weekend against Nebraska-Omaha in Omaha, Neb.

Cory Weaver

Ever since coach Wendy Dillinger brought in what would become her most successful freshman class to date in 2010, the team hasn’t been able to put it all together.

For the past two years, the team has had to focus on conditioning and getting back in shape to kick off the season. This year was different and many players took a proactive approach to the offseason, allowing them to focus more on what they’re there to do — play soccer.

“We took a challenge in the spring, we elevated our level of play, we elevated our level of fitness and it has stayed there,” said junior forward Jennifer Dominguez. “Now we’re focusing on soccer so when we got back in August, we hit the ground running working on our soccer things.”

Dillinger said the majority of the team was back in Ames working with the strength coach in July, a month before they are required to report back for practice. With everyone passing the dreaded fitness tests, the team has been able to devote more time to working on the soccer aspect.

At the team’s media day on Monday, it was clear scoring more goals this season was something the players are all striving for. Last season, 22 Cyclone shots found the back of the net, four less than 2010.

With a completely healthy team this time around, fans could see that number skyrocket if, like always, they can put it all together.

“We have some powerful kickers on the team and a lot of speed up top and just so many different looks that if we all come together we’re going to be dangerous up there,” said senior defender Megan Longobardi.

Longobardi, formerly Megan Long before getting married this summer, is one of the few players Dillinger has with deep-range shooting ability. Combined with a 6-foot-1 Haley Albert in the box and shooters from every angle, this team could give opposing keepers headaches unless their heads move on a swivel.

The leadership aspect is one that every sports team wants to have. For the previous four seasons, Mary Kate McLaughlin maintained a presence on the field that coaches dream of because of her ability to command the team and keep everyone together.

McLaughlin graduated last season and the void is one Dillinger has said is more than difficult to replace. Now that a new season is about to begin, junior midfielder Emily Goldstein said it was tough at first, but believes the team is ready.

“Right away we were a little upset but people have totally stepped in and it’s like [McLaughlin is] still there,” Goldstein said.

The team opens the preseason campaign with Nebraska-Omaha on Friday night and Creighton on Sunday afternoon. Both games are in Omaha and despite it still being preseason, Dominguez said the team’s excited to get some fresh competition.

“We want to just get out there and we want to play against somebody else and what we’ve put together so far in the preseason has been really exciting from day one until now,” Dominguez said.

Besides avenging that 4-1 loss to Iowa last season in Iowa City, the team is also shooting for a Big 12 Tournament bid and potentially an NCAA tournament appearance as well.

In order to do so, the team must follow through with its plans of a scoring jolt this season. If this year’s junior class can not only replicate but improve on its success from 2010 when it scored 22 of the team’s 26 goals and the rest of the team does its part, Goldstein said they have the tools to exceed their goals.

“I don’t think anybody in the Big 12 is going to expect the way that we’re trying to play and the way we’re going to come out and play against them,” Goldstein said. “I really do think that we’re just going to have a completely new clean slate in the Big 12 and I really think we’re going to surprise some people this year,” Goldstein said. 

Friday’s match is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Iowa State returns to Nebraska for an invitational in Lincoln the following weekend before taking on Iowa Aug. 31 in Ames. Game time for the home opener is set for 7 p.m. under the lights.