Cyclone freshmen cast help propel team to victories

Cory Weaver

Last season, the ISU soccer team had a school-record 14 freshmen on its opening-day squad, a number at which most coaches would cringe.

However, coach Wendy Dillinger and the rest of the team helped the newcomers emerge as some of the top players in the Big 12 and raised their conference win total by one for a second-straight year.

This season, Iowa State (2-0-0) has only 11 new faces that hope to continue the success this year’s sophomores had last season. Dillinger was very complimentary of her new class, but she said they have a little way to go to be as successful as their predecessors.

“Our incoming class is talented,” Dillinger said. “We have a lot of talent in different positions, size, speed, athletic ability, [and] I think the difference is the gap they have to close relative to last year’s freshman class is different and the sophomores have raised the bar again already in the last 10 days and preseason.

“They’re definitely going to contribute, [but] they have a little bit further to go to get on the field than the sophomores did as freshmen last year.”

In Friday’s match against Drake, freshman Hayley Womack scored one of the two goals and got in on the action as well with an assist in the 2-0 victory.

Fellow freshman Kaeli Flaska also put a shot on goal for the Cyclone offensive attack in the team’s first victory of the season.

On Sunday, Iowa State took on Northern Illinois in its first home match of the season with the freshmen getting back at it again.

Sophomore forward Jennifer Dominguez kicked off the scoring with a sliding goal early in the first half, and with less than 10 minutes until halftime, freshman Ashley Johnson fired a shot from 25 yards, putting the Cyclones up 2-0 for good.

Senior Mary Kate McLaughlin and the rest of the upperclassmen have given the rookies lots of advice already of how to succeed at the Division I level, and making the jump from high school to college is one thing she stressed.

“The transition from high school to college is huge, and it’s one that it’s hard to put into one single word or one single piece of advice,” McLaughlin said at media day. “We’ve talked about a lot of things at practice about what it means to play at a high level.”

Dominguez was part of the giant freshman class last season and said this year’s class has impressed her already.

“They’re all really eager to learn and they’re all eager to get on the field and they all want to play,” Dominguez said. “The speed of play, the physicality and everything is different in the college level and so there’s a big gap, but they’re working extremely hard to fill that and to be right up with the upperclassmen.”

Another one of last year’s freshmen is Emily Goldstein, who led the team in points and goals last season. The sophomore midfielder now had some words of advice for the newcomers as well.

“They have to come in confident and know that they’re on this team for a reason and just leave everything on the field at all times and not go in and regret not doing something on the field,” Goldstein said.

The Cyclones will take their 2-0 record to Wisconsin this weekend to face Green Bay and Washington.