Notebook: Cyclones win first conference match in almost two years

Sophomore midfielder Mira Emma dribbles the ball upfield against the Baylor Bears. The Cyclones came out on top in a 2-1 match.

John Miller

With the match tied 1-1 in the second overtime against the Baylor Bears, the Iowa State Cyclones soccer team needed a spark.

With the clock winding down, they hit the attack. After the ball went out of bounds on Baylor’s goal side, the Cyclones were awarded their first corner kick of the match.

Then, Iowa State got what it needed.

After senior Kassi Ginther headed the ball toward the middle, it found Olivia Edwards, a freshman for the Cyclones. She quickly kicked it into the back left corner of the goal to secure a Cyclone victory and her first career goal.

“It was really a long time coming,” said McKenna Schultz, a senior defender for Iowa State.

The Cyclones’ overtime victory over the Bears was the program’s first Big 12 win since Oct. 25, 2018. It has also been over a year since the team’s last win against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Sep. 15, 2019.

For the performance, Iowa State was named the Big 12 Team of the Week. In addition, Edwards earned the Freshman of the Week award for her game-winning goal.

With almost a two-year absence of conference wins, sophomore midfielder Mira Emma said the game felt that much sweeter.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions from last year to this year,” Emma said. “Our mindset is just different this year, and that feeling to win a game again was awesome.”

The win is the first of Head Coach Matt Fannon’s career at Iowa State.

Usually teams play nonconference opponents early in the year to prepare for the conference schedule. But with just a nine-game conference schedule, Fannon was thrust right into action.

“Everybody wants to win on game day,” Fannon said. “But the stuff behind the scenes for the first whistle is what matters more to get that result.”

The Cyclones rushed the field, celebrating a feeling they hadn’t felt in over a year. For Schultz, she said the win was relieving.

“My whole career here, it’s been a struggle to win close games,” Schultz said. “We’ve always been in games and never got over the hump, but this year, it just seems different.”

While the win marks an accomplishment for the Cyclones, Fannon said the key is to build on it and make winning a habit.

The Cyclones have not had a winning conference record since 2005, the last time when they made the NCAA Tournament.

With the two highest-ranked conference opponents out the way, Fannon said the Cyclones have a great chance to continue to compete for wins.

“What we’ve said to our women from the beginning is that winning is something we do every single day,” Fannon said. “I think it hurt us the first couple games because we went against programs that have had that instilled in them from the start, but now, I think we’re getting there.”

Iowa State has two road tests ahead in the form of Oklahoma and TCU. In those matches last year, the Cyclones were tied in the second half before giving up a goal late.

But after this game, Emma said she believes the team is built different.

“I think our mindset is just different; we just had it instilled in ourselves to believe in tough situations,” Emma said.

In their first two games, the Bears had tied their opponents 0-0 after double overtime, one of those being TCU. It looked as if a third game was going that way until Edwards made the goal.  

The Cyclones have yet to play an opponent that has a loss coming into the match against them.

“There are no easy games in the Big 12,” Fannon said. “But talking all the time and being physical are ways we can be engaged and sort of emulate that performance.”

TCU (1-0-1) defeated the Texas Longhorns 3-0 Sep. 18. The Horned Frogs’ game against Kansas State was postponed last week.

With that week off, Fannon said it will be interesting to see how the Horned Frogs respond. Either way, he said the priority is focusing on themselves.

The Cyclones face TCU at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN+ Big 12 Now.