SOCCER: 2009 season meant positive steps for Cyclones, despite record

David Merrill

ISU senior goalkeeper Ann Gleason walked off the field in Lincoln, Neb., after the Husker’s game-winning overtime goal that sealed a 2–1 victory and ended the Cyclones’ season.

Gleason would later remove her black goalkeeper jersey, the white No. 1 emblazoned in the center, for the final time.

“It was hard to lose the last game,” Gleason said. “But there are positive things that are remembered instead. We took positive steps toward playing more as a team and for your fellow teammate this season.”

It was the set-play combination of freshman forward Amanda Woelfel and sophomore midfielder Mary Kate McLaughlin that struck first in the contest. Woelfel played the ball into the box for a running McLaughlin to head the ball into the net, putting the Cyclones  up 1–0 in the 63rd minute.

Nebraska would not go away quietly as a Molly Thomas goal in the 73rd minute evened the score at 1–1.

The contest went into overtime where Thomas assisted senior Lauren Isenhower on the game-winning goal in the 93rd minute.

“We knew what to expect of them,” coach Wendy Dillinger said. “Their outside backs really got forward quite a bit and it took awhile for our forwards to figure out how to defend them in the first half.”

Iowa State’s loss to the Huskers capped off a 7–9–4 season in which the Cyclones failed to make the Big 12 tournament for the second straight season.

Despite the fact the Cyclones aren’t heading to San Antonio, they did show some signs of improvement past their record.

“I thought that we were a really close group of girls,” Woelfel said. “I think our defense was really strong. We were really good at set pieces. We might not have always been the best team technically, but when we were playing we played hard and as team.”

The Cyclones also improved on their conditioning from last season, helped by playing overtime minutes in five of their contests.

“We were more fit,” Dillinger said. “We were able to get through more of our games more consistently in terms of just making it through the game.”

The improvement in training helped the Cyclones become a better defensive team than the season before as they allowed nine fewer goals in conference play and 17 fewer goals overall than last season.

Despite what the stat sheets said, Dillinger felt Iowa State improved its offensive play as far as being more organized in the attack.

One of the key stats the Cyclones will look to improve upon next season is finishing around the net, especially in conference play. The Cyclones were only able to tally six goals in conference play. Their biggest losing margin was two goals, an improvement from last year where they suffered a 6–0 loss at the hands of Oklahoma State.

Iowa State will return 16 of the 23 players from this season as well as a talented recruiting class.

“We’re excited for next year,” Dillinger said. “We’re bringing in competitors and the soccer IQ goes up dramatically. It’s a competitive group to add to what we already have.”

The Cyclones improved in areas of the game and improved on their 5–12–2 record from the season before, but the ending was still bittersweet.

“It was so sad,” Woelfel said. “The season just flew by and knowing that you won’t be able to play another game for a year really sucks. You work so hard for the three months that you are in season and for it to be over is disappointing.

“The main disappointment is not being able to win the game for the seniors and send them off on a positive note.”