Cyclone soccer visits Oklahoma with eyes on getting back on track

No. 18 Olivia Edwards battles for the ball against a West Virginia player Sept. 11 in Iowa State soccer’s season opener.

James Powell

Last season, the Iowa State soccer team would not have anticipated having a decent chance to finish above .500 for the first time in 15 years.

As if 2020 couldn’t get any crazier, a Cyclone team that is usually written off quite early has a chance to make some noise in the Big 12, and it starts Friday against Oklahoma.

The Cyclones did this by, so far, winning the games they’re supposed to. Granted, they’ve only won a single game this season, but it was against unranked Baylor. Their other three games have been against top-15 teams (West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU), and it seems as though the team has gotten through the meatiest part of their schedule in one piece.

This weekend’s game gives Iowa State a chance to show it can win games where the talent level is more equal. With a new coaching staff and a young team, the wins, one would think, will come as the team develops and finds a new identity under Head Coach Matt Fannon.

“There’s a different angle to that, and it’s an angle that our women haven’t felt for a long time,” Fannon said when discussing Iowa State having a better overall record than the visiting Sooners.

He’s correct, aside from both teams being 0-0, the team hasn’t been favored based off record in a year or two. 

Oklahoma had a game postponed due to COVID-19 against its in-state rival Oklahoma State to start the season, and has since lost to Texas, 1-0, and tied Texas Tech at two. 

The Sooners were 3-5-1 in conference play last season, with one of those wins coming against a winless Iowa State team, 2-1. 

In their prior game against the Red Raiders that ended in a tie, they had one goal scored by Reagan Glisson and a penalty kick scored by Yuuka Kurosaki. Oklahoma conceded just one shot in the first half and 14 in the second heading into overtime.

One factor that could lead to that large of a shot disparity is that Oklahoma is known as a very aggressive team, which can either help or hinder a team.

“Oklahoma is really good at ramping up the pressure and a really physical team as well,” Fannon said.

As evidenced by their first few games of the season, the story of this game will most likely be how soon the Cyclones can strike.

Their lone win of the season came (after overtime) when they were able to score first and put the pressure on Baylor. They scored first against Oklahoma State, but that came amid a dominant second half from the Cowgirls that led to a 2-1 defeat.

If Iowa State wants to compete this season, every game is crucial. The Cyclone players and coaches don’t feel as though they’ve wasted or squandered any opportunities and feel like the opponents they’ve faced are reflective of their record.

The pressure is now thrust back onto the Cyclones as they have a stretch you could argue goes until the end of the season in which they will be favored in most, if not all, games. It all starts with a match Friday against a winless Oklahoma Sooner squad.

The game is set to start at 7 p.m. and takes place in Norman, Oklahoma.