Notebook: Smaller details key in Cyclones’ matches against top teams

Iowa State freshman Anna Lindgren surveys the field during the Cyclones’ match vs. No. 15 Memphis on Sept. 9.

Adarsh Tamma

The devil has been in the details for the Iowa State soccer team this season, as they look to wrap up the non-conference schedule this week.

The Cyclones have had an up-and-down start to the 2021 season, as they currently have an overall record of 2-4 after a close overtime loss to Memphis, who at the time was ranked No. 15 in the national polls. Iowa State held the Tigers scoreless late into overtime until Tigers freshman Aubrey Mister fired a shot into the back of the net to keep Memphis’ undefeated start to the season alive.

Despite the loss, Iowa State head coach Matt Fannon thinks his team is on the cusp of challenging these higher-ranked opponents.

“We know we are that close, it’s just a couple of details,” Fannon said. “It’s just that finishing touch and no matter what it takes, getting it done. That’s the bit that’s been eluding us and while all [of] the other bits have been moving well.”

The finer details were certainly a major theme of the Cyclones’ last two matchups against the Tigers and their win over SIU-Edwardsville on Sept. 5. Against the Cougars, the Cyclones kept creating chances throughout the match to score the first goal but just couldn’t seem to convert them.

It wasn’t until the 75th minute when freshman Lauren McConnell finally broke the deadlock as the Cyclones finished the match with 22 shots, compared to SIUE’s two.

Freshman defender Tyra Shand also spoke of the team’s composure after the loss to Memphis.

“I think we gained a lot of confidence from the [Memphis] game just because they are so highly ranked,” Shand said. “Before the match, we didn’t really know how the good teams were going to play, but after facing them I think we got a sense that we can beat them. We were so close.”

Shand and the rest of Iowa State’s back four had their hands full against the Tigers, as many of Memphis’ chances came from either corners or free kicks placed well into their own half. The Tigers seemed to have their way before the golden goal, finishing the match with 20 shots, including five in overtime. For the Cyclones, improving on their own set pieces is key to winning matches going forward.

“We worked on the details of what we’ve need to improve upon, so set pieces have been important during training,” Anna Lindgren said. “There have been games that we should’ve won and I feel like we’ve been working on the details that are going to make a difference in the game.”

The matchup against Creighton will again provide the Cyclones an opportunity to capitalize on those set pieces that have not come their way in the past. The Blue Jays, like Memphis, boast a stingy defense, having recorded their fifth consecutive shutout of the year against UMKC last Sunday. They are currently fifth in the nation on goals-against average with a mark of 0.237.

“We just need to decide and stick to being winners,” Fannon said on his team’s game plan. “The tiny details that matter are just what we’re missing and I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”

Iowa State will kickoff against Creighton at 6 p.m. Thursday.