ISU looks to finish with a Big 12 tournament bid

Mark Pawlak

The ISU women’s soccer program will head into the weekend with one mission in mind: to win and attempt to qualify for the Big 12 tournament.

The Cyclones sit in ninth place in the conference standings with only three matches remaining. Only the top eight conference finishers are eligible for post-season tournament.

The standings are determined by a point system in which a win is worth three points and a tie is worth one. Iowa State has five points and owns a 1-4-2 conference record, which puts it just behind eighth-place Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State has seven points and a 2-4-1 record.

All Iowa State can do is win and take care of itself to make the tournament.

Coming to Ames for the Cyclones’ final home games are Texas Tech on Friday and Colorado on Sunday. They complete the season by traveling to Nebraska on Nov. 2.

“Obviously, we want to win. We have to win at least one more game as we go on throughout the season to edge out Oklahoma State,” head coach Stephanie Gabbert said.

“It’s really important, because for a lot of the freshmen it sets the tone for our next three years here. I know the older girls want to go out with a bang, too,” freshman Nikki Gamble said. “For our only senior [Krista Voss], it would be a nice ending for her, if she got to go to the Big 12 tournament.”

Gabbert wants her team’s hard work to be rewarded with a trip to San Antonio.

“I definitely think it’s something that we very much want to accomplish this year,” she said. “I think our team has worked incredibly hard over the last year and a half to get better, and we’re definitely better.”

Last weekend, the Cyclones traveled to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and played both teams to double-overtime ties.

Against the Sooners, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Freshman goalkeeper Karen Hasselman tied her career high with 12 saves in the match.

The Cyclones played Oklahoma State to a 1-1 tie. Gamble scored at the 17th minute of the first half to account for Iowa State’s lone tally.

“I think we really fought hard throughout the weekend. It’s hard to play two full overtime games back-to-back and really be fresh throughout them,” Gabbert said.

Gamble has been a key performer this season and is the Cyclones’ leading goal scorer in conference play with two goals.

“Nikki [Gamble] has come a long way since she first came in,” Gabbert said.

“We thought she’d be a very dynamic and explosive player in the middle and she has been,” she said. “She improves week to week . a great thing for us to watch.”

Putting the ball in the net more will be important to Iowa State’s success in the season’s final matches.

“I’ve been trying to focus on going harder to the goal, because we need to score more,” Gamble said. “Especially when we get to the Big 12 tournament, that’s going to be a key factor in winning our games – scoring as much as we can. I need to keep a scoring mentality.”

The pressure of needing to win against the Red Raiders and the Buffaloes this weekend will be there, but the Cyclones are treating each game just as any other.