Physical play factors into Iowa State’s opening loss to West Virginia

Freshman defender Olivia Edwards argues a call in the first half of the Cyclones’ 2-0 loss to the Mountaineers.

James Powell

The Cyclones didn’t get off to the strong start every team hopes for, being defeated by the West Virginia Mountaineers 2-0 on Friday night to open their 2020 season.

The first half saw an early goal from the Mountaineers, about 13 minutes in. Aside from the goal, however, the possession time and even shot disparity was somewhat even, despite the score not being in Iowa State’s favor.

The second half saw a lot more shots, but just one more goal (also by the Mountaineers). The total shots were eight for West Virginia, with seven on goal, compared to eight for Iowa State, but with just two on goal.

But the big difference in the second half was the fouls called. In the first half, there were 10 fouls called against the Cyclones, to just three against the Mountaineers. By the final horn, it was 15-7, Iowa State. 

That amount of fouls is hard to overcome in a game where the Cyclones were not favored to begin with. Senior forward Tavin Hays knew that it was important for the team to at least attempt to close the foul gap before it was too late.

“The refs don’t know everything, so getting that chippiness in there and getting them to make calls our way when we can is the best way to handle that situation,”  Hays said.

This early in the season, and with the off-season being unlike any other, it’s somewhat expected to be sloppy to some degree. Each team is getting a feel for real competition again, and trying to get their feet under them in this shortened season. 

Another factor that could have potentially played into the fact that so many fouls were called is that this game, along with all the other ones this season, is within the conference. Usually, teams will have exhibitions or non-conference games to get their feet wet before diving into the gauntlet of the Big 12, but in 2020, the team will be thrust into a battle every game, and most of the time that will show up on the stat sheet.

It felt as though every time a couple of minutes had gone by where the Cyclones had good offensive zone time or had solid possession, suddenly it would be going the other way because of a sloppy play or a foul. Head Coach Matt Fannon certainly seemed to feel that way.

“There were a couple of big moments that I think, when we were on top, we didn’t get the calls we wanted, but that’s the game,” Fannon said.

Fannon went on to add that the fouls certainly didn’t contribute to the outcome of the game, but certainly attributed some momentum swings in the game to a call or two.

Iowa State will get a week-long hiatus before they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on Oklahoma State.