Notebook: Cyclone soccer looking to build off young team, young season

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

James Powell

Iowa State was defeated by a historically good West Virginia team last Friday, losing 2-0 to the Mountaineers, and things don’t look to be getting any easier for the Cyclone soccer team. They travel to Oklahoma State to take on a team that went 16-3-3 last year and won 3-0 last week to start this shortened season 1-0.

The Cyclones know they are in the midst of building a sustainable winning program, as well as a culture, under a whole new coaching staff led by Head Coach Matt Fannon. 

Taking it a game at a time

In this season that only features nine games for the Big 12 soccer season, each game is crucial if you want to be successful. But looking at the slate of nine may be daunting for a young, developing squad that finished in the cellar of the Big 12 last year, going 0-9.

Fannon recognizes that each game is important, and he also realizes that this team isn’t going to become a powerhouse overnight.

“For us to hit our long-term goals in the short-term is a bit unrealistic … we’re not going to go 9-0 this season,” Fannon said.

The Cyclones already have changed that zero to a one in the loss column, and the team knows that even with the short season, taking it a week, game or even practice at a time is the key to building long-term success.

Fannon focused on tweaking, not starting over 

After a defeat, it’s easy for any team to be so focused on finding a whole new approach that will help them win the next week, but Fannon understands that minor tweaks here and there to adapt to each team is the key. 

“It’s going to be a case of who are we, what’s our identity … through that identity will be moving a couple of pieces to get the most out of our team that week,” Fannon said.

With such a young roster that features over half the team being freshmen or sophomores, the team knows it’s of the utmost importance you aren’t starting from square one every week.

Rookie coach vs. long-time veteran

Having people in your corner who have been through the ringer of a soccer season enough to get a feel for how it flows is paramount in any season but especially one altered so much by the pandemic.

While Fannon has coached at Bowling Green for multiple years, this is his first season in the cardinal and gold. Oklahoma State Head Coach Colin Carmichael has been with the Cowgirls since their inaugural season back in 1996, and this is his 16th year as head coach of the team.

With having that much experience, Carmichael probably had a better idea of, at the very least, knowing how his team would react to having so little practice time compared to other seasons, as well as being put right into the heat of Big 12 play. There is certainly something to be said about having someone like that in a program, and that contributes to how successful of a program they have become, as well as still being able to shutout Kansas State 3-0 last weekend.