Soccer gears up for Big 12 Tournament

Mark Pawlak

The ISU women’s soccer team is excited to be heading to the Big 12 tournament and will be playing with nothing to lose.

The eighth-seeded Cyclones will be facing top-seeded Texas Thursday at 11 a.m. in the opening quarterfinal match of the tournament.

Iowa State will be looking to duplicate their performance from their last appearance in the tournament, where in 1999, the then-seventh-seeded Cyclones were able to upset second-seeded and nationally- ranked Texas A&M 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

Those Cyclones went on to lose to Missouri 2-1 in the semifinals.

The Longhorns will be a tough opponent as they sit at 9-1 in the conference and 11-4 overall, and defeated the Cyclones 5-1 earlier this season.

“We’re going to have to be strong defensively and try to limit our mistakes,” head coach Stephanie Gabbert said.

“We are definitely excited to play Texas. I think we could have done better against [them] than we did when we played them in the regular season. It’s always great to go in and play the number one seed and have a chance to knock them off right away.”

The Cyclones’ win in the 1999 tournament gives them confidence that they can pull off a similar victory on Thursday.

“I think it makes it a little more believable for our players to know that they can go in there and do something that everybody thinks that they can’t,” Gabbert said. “Having that experience with our returners that we have here that were there certainly is something they have talked about and are excited to do again.”

The ISU players are excited to be in postseason play.

“There’s nothing to lose. It’s single elimination; once you lose you’re done. If we lose our first game, we are done for the season,” junior defender Tiffany Belz said. “The longer we hang in there, the longer we get to play. It takes everyone’s 110 percent effort the whole time they’re on the field.”

The Cyclones have achieved one goal in making the tournament and are now aiming at reaching a new goal.

“I’m very excited. Being a freshmen, I haven’t been there before,” goalkeeper Karen Hasselman said. “I know it was our team goal to go there, because last year this team didn’t get to go. That was the whole effort this season up to this point. Our new goal is to go there and win.”

Iowa State finished the regular season at 5-10-2 overall and 3-5-2 in the conference after falling to host Nebraska 4-0 on Friday.