Notebook: Fannon looking to create “soccer junkies” out of squad


Iowa State senior Brooke Miller moves the ball against Creighton on Thursday in a 1-0 win.

Adarsh Tamma

For head coach Matt Fannon and the Iowa State soccer team, the current season has been dominated by a pattern of extreme highs and lows. Through their first 11 matches, the Cyclones sit at a record of 4-7 after having dropped their most recent matchup to Texas 2-0.

In an ever-competitive Big 12 Conference with multiple teams contesting nationally, those challenges will again show their prowess this week. The Cyclones return home for another pair of matches at the Cyclone Sports Complex, facing off against Texas Tech on Thursday and No. 11 TCU on Sunday.

Fannon, who is in his second year as head coach for Iowa State, has consistently talked about how this season is a glimpse into the future of the program, a program whose culture he is ultimately intent on changing.

“I think we lost to Texas, not because of what happened on the night, but because of what’s happened over the past five years,” Fannon said on his team’s performance against the Longhorns. “It takes time to build a group of people that play soccer into soccer junkies and I think we’re moving that way.”

Each of the remaining games also represents a new learning opportunity for the Cyclones going forward. Fannon spoke on his team’s potential to grow in the context of this week’s matches.

“After the Texas game, I said to the team and staff that ‘this is really an incredible lesson,'” Fannon said. “What we’re actually trying to be and aiming for, and realizing that we’re not that far away is important.”

“I know in the long run that these games can really improve our development. That doesn’t stop it from absolutely sucking in the moment and stop from hurting to lose right now. I don’t think anybody’s interested about where we’re going to be in two to three years, but I know that’s what keeps me sane when we’re going through this.”

While Fannon looks towards the future, his players seem hungry to produce results now and improve their standing in the conference with five games left.

Senior defender Brooke Miller stressed the importance of this last stretch of the regular season by saying, “These games really matter a lot in terms of where we’ll end up in the Big 12 standings. I think we’re going to put our best foot forward and build up momentum to get us to a spot where we feel that we can change the direction we’re currently in.”

Junior midfielder Mira Emma also looked towards the Big 12 Tournament to motivate the team to wrap up the season. The Wheaton, Ill. native looked to locking up a top-eight spot as crucial for the team’s potential.

“I think this conference is still up for grabs,” Emma said. “If you look at this weekend’s past games or just how competitive it is, on any given day anyone can beat anyone else. We just have to show up and be on our A-game.”

Iowa State will kick off against Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Thursday.