Soccer to open Big 12 play against No. 13 Mountaineers


Freshman midfielder Morina Suter-Doerig playing the ball in Iowa State’s match against Creighton on Sep. 16. The Cyclones beat the Bluejays 1-0.

Adarsh Tamma

After an up-and-down start to the 2021 season, the Iowa State soccer team is looking to get their season back on the winning path with the commencement of their conference schedule. The Cyclones will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Cyclones currently have an overall record of 3-5, having wrapped up the non-conference portion of their season on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to South Dakota. At times, the team has shown flashes of strong play, but those high points have been countered with missed opportunities.

Against the Coyotes, the Cyclones had an eight shot advantage in the match (13-5), but failed to convert any into scoring plays.

“We’ve been the epitome of inconsistency,” said head coach Matt Fannon. “That’s [been] really strange for me as a coach, and I still think we’re trying to find our way through that. Hopefully, this [past] weekend was a good kick in the ass to realize that we have to take care of the details and get after it.

“It was a rough day; we didn’t do many things well and we lost because of it. I’m hopeful that that very difficult lesson that we learned will be the last time that we need to learn it.”

West Virginia enters this matchup against Iowa State with a record of 6-2-1 on the year, with their two losses coming to top-10 teams in Virginia and Penn State. The Mountaineers also lead the all-time series against the Cyclones 9-0 since joining the Big 12 Conference in 2012, which includes last season’s 2-0 win in Ames. It will be the Cyclones’ second match against a ranked opponent this year after their 1-0 OT loss to No. 15 Memphis at home on Sep. 9.

“West Virginia is going to be a different test to anybody we’ve played so far,” Fannon said on Friday’s matchup. “We’re 3-5, incredibly inconsistent and haven’t played well enough in too many games. But, I feel like we’re going to Morgantown with the intention of the winning the game.”

For the Cyclones, one of their keys to consistency is not so much their play on the field but their mindset in matches.

Junior defender Claudia Najera spoke of her team’s mental preparation coming out of the the South Dakota loss.

“I think we learned that we need to always be mentally tough and in the moment. We can’t let other distractions get to us… I think maybe we weren’t the best that we could be mentally and I think that’s going to be really important going forward,” she said.

Ultimately, Fannon hopes that Friday’s matchup against the Mountaineers will be a step in the right direction for his team coming off of the non-conference slate of matches.

“We want to go in there with the right frame of mind,” he said. “I’m hoping [Sunday’s loss] is a blessing in disguise and that everyone realizes that we need to take care of this well enough. Now we’ve got to get after it and realize how important it is.”

Iowa State will kickoff against West Virginia at the Dick Dielsk Soccer Stadium at 6 p.m. on Friday. The match will also be streamed live on ESPN+.