Iowa State soccer ready to get back to action

Then-freshman midfielder Claudia Najera crosses the ball against an Omaha player Sept. 8, 2019. Iowa State won 1-0.

John Miller

Iowa State soccer is back.

While the season looks more different than normal, what matters is that the Cyclones will be taking the field this fall. And with the global COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, the status of the season was always in question.

“Our thoughts the whole time was, if we get the chance to play, we will be more than happy to,” Head Coach Matt Fannon said. “But our biggest thing is that we need to follow the necessary protocols to do it safely.”

Iowa State released a press release Thursday that said all home soccer and volleyball matches will not be open to the public this season. The events will be televised on Big 12 Now and ESPN+, the conference’s exclusive live streaming service.

While there won’t be fans in the stands, Iowa State soccer players are eager to just be able to play again.

“It was definitely scary going through it all and not necessarily knowing what was going to happen,” said Taylor Bee, a junior defender. “But I was really open-minded because I knew [Fannon] would prepare us no matter the situation we got.”

Classes were canceled for the 2019 spring semester because of coronavirus, which sent the players home. Each player was responsible for conditioning on their own. While this may have seemed like a daunting task, Fannon was there for his players the whole time.

“One of the biggest things we try to get right with the women is to never lie to them,” Fannon said. “I think it’s better for you to know it and it not be what you want to hear than not telling them the truth.”

Some of these things included meeting at unusual times and telling the players that their work for this year might go unnoticed. But the biggest thing was that they were prepared if they did get the chance to play.

And now, the Cyclones are getting their wish.

“Our preparation has been different because of being separated for so long,” Fannon said. “But it really showed me why Iowa State is special because there is just a complete understanding of how the whole community is built together and united.”

No players have opted out for the upcoming season, which means everyone will be suiting up for the Cyclones unless injuries occur.

The 2020 season is nine games long, with Iowa State facing each Big 12 team once. While there will be no NCAA Tournament, Fannon said nothing can replicate the game experience.

“You can’t get a feel for where you are at as a team without seeing that competition on the field,” Fannon said.

Fannon also said that the time away from regular practice during the pandemic will be able to show who put in extra work with their time and who didn’t.

But the players feel that the team did an excellent job of hanging in there.

“I think it helped us because we all went through different things,” said Claudia Najera, a sophomore midfielder. “It was hard not seeing your teammates, but we stayed connected throughout it all better than anyone.”

The first game is Sept. 11, with Iowa State facing the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Cyclone Sports Complex. First kick time is yet to be announced.

“Our players have been in the case if it’s safe, we will play our heart out,” Fannon said. “I think the situation has been handled really maturely, and they’ve been thoughtful about it to make sure it is safe to play.”