Positive moments shine bright for Cyclones

Cory Weaver

Another ISU soccer season is in the

books after the Cyclones failed to qualify for the Big 12


Despite not advancing, there were

some positive moments to the season as well.

“Basically it came down to the game

with Oklahoma,” said coach Wendy Dillinger. “[It’s] so

disappointing that that game is what decided our fate but there

were some bright spots.”

The Cyclones started out the season

undefeated for the first six matches, which included a 2-0 road win

over No. 23 Washington.

“We had some moments that we made

mistakes that cost us, which I think is just another thing that

goes back to inexperience, the youth of the team, but through the

season there were some very shining moments in terms of our play

and our competitiveness within the conference,” Dillinger


Then Iowa State split its next 6

matches before losing to Texas and Texas A&M on the road,

before taking on No. 2 Oklahoma State in one of the key moments of

the season.

“We played some of our best soccer

against Oklahoma State [and] against Texas A&M but not

capitalizing on the chances that we did create is one of those

things that, being a young team, we’ll continue to work on heading

into next year,” Dillinger said. “Defensively we had some really

good play.”

The inability to capitalize on

opportunities was something the Cyclones struggled with this

season, but sophomore forward Jennifer Dominguez helped pressure

opposing keepers all year long en route to a team-leading five

goals and 48 shots and said it’s still a work in


“We took advantage of some chances

and put pressure on the keepers some, but now it means we have to

make sure we finish them the first time when we get those chances

and take advantage,” Dominguez said.

Dillinger was also very

complimentary of Dominguez as well, who had just 40 shots and one

goal last season.

“She’s capable of scoring 10-12

goals a year, and I think she’s capable of being in the top

two-thirds in the conference in scoring,” Dillinger said of

Dominguez. “She’s that dynamic and explosive, we just have to work

with her more on finishing the close-range chances.”

Last season’s freshman class

contributed 22 of the team’s 26 goals, and Dillinger said from day

one that it had some big shoes to fill in terms of being newcomers.

Looking back on this season, she said there were a few surprises

this time around as well.

“We expected Lindsay Frank to come

in and make an impact, and I think she was more solid, more

consistent, than we really expected,” Dillinger said. “We knew

she’d contribute and she’d play, but it was clear pretty early that

she was going to win herself a starting spot and be one of our

consistent players that we could always count on.”

She also noted freshman forward

Kaeli Flaska, who recorded the first Cyclone hat trick since 2002

against Loyola-Chicago, as a key contributor this season. Freshman

keeper Andrea Swanson also stepped in and played in 12 contests for

the Cyclones as well.

After last season, Iowa State lost

just two seniors. But this year, the team will lose four. Senior

co-captain Emily Hejlik said it will be time for the younger

players to take charge.

“When our regular season starts, the

big thing is you’re not freshmen anymore and especially coming into

spring, you’re not freshmen anymore,” Hejlik said. “A lot of them

really need to look to step up and take a leadership role whether

that’s on or off the field.”

Hejlik, along with fellow senior

co-captain Mary Kate McLaughlin, Amanda Cacciatore and Amanda

Mayberry, all played their final games as Cyclones on Friday and

now Dillinger is faced with the task of replacing them.

“I think with Mary Kate, her

presence is one that’s going to be missed, quite a bit, from her

leadership and just her competitive dynamic play and she always

showed up to play,” Dillinger said. “Emily Hejlik is kind of the

calming presence in the game. She’s definitely a play that you

don’t always notice all the time but you notice when she’s not


McLaughlin and Hejlik have been

everyday starters since their freshman year in 2008. Mayberry and

Cacciatore have been big contributors as well and Dillinger said

their ability to push the starters made them even more


“Those are the kind of players that

make or break your program,” Dillinger said.

The Cyclones went on to win three of

their final four games, including their final game of the season

against Missouri. While a team always wants to win the final game

of the season, the game showed a lot of character.

“We knew prior to the game that

Kansas had lost to Oklahoma, so I think just the way we responded

as a whole I was proud of too because we had no chance so we could

have just given up there, but I’m really glad as a team we played

well, and we came out with a win which we deserved,” Hejlik


Iowa State will begin offseason

workouts soon and come 2012, a new class of freshman will join the

team and the Cyclones will get a fresh start on converting those

opportunities in hopes of a Big 12 tournament bid.