Takeaways: Offense dominates Cyclones’ opening two matches


Sophomore midfielder Mira Emma tries to move past a Kansas defender Nov 6, 2020. Iowa State finished in a 1-1 draw against Kansas.

Adarsh Tamma

The Iowa State soccer team commenced the 2021 season against a pair of Big West Conference opponents in California last week. The Cyclones’ trip to the Golden State resulted in a 1-1 record to start off the year.

The Cyclones won their first match against UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) 2-0 on Thursday but dropped their next encounter against California State University Northridge (CSUN) 2-1 on Sunday.

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Fannon’s squad pursued a more offensive play style against both teams, with the main takeaway from the opening weekend being that the Cyclones seemed to try to overwhelm their opponents from the opening whistle, with the game-play having its pros and cons against the Gauchos and Matadors.

Shots-on-target, midfield playmakers key to victory

In both of the matches the Cyclones played, it was the midfield that proved to be the difference maker in how their fortunes would fair over the course of the 90 minutes.

In its season opener against UCSB, Freshmen Lauren McConnell and Anna Lindgren each scored a goal in the first half. The two players were the first pair of Cyclone freshmen to score in a match since Sept. 4, 2016, when Tegan Alexander and Hannah Cade scored in a 2-0 away win against Georgia.

Another stat that proved to be key was the number of shots taken by both teams, with the Cyclones outshooting the Gauchos of UCSB, 8-6 and the Matadors of Cal State, 9-7. However, the more accurate team was proven to be the victor in both matches as well. Iowa State had six of its shots-on-target compared to UCSB’s two, but trailed in this category in its loss against CSUN by a margin of 4-3.

Junior midfielder, Mira Emma, took five shots against the Matadors, with her first being the equalizer in the 28th minute and the last nearly tying the match again just three seconds from time. The Wheaton, Illinois, native was a starter for all 13 of Iowa State’s games last season, leading the team in both total points (8) and goals scored (3).

Fouls, yellow cards a trend of offensive play

One of the effects of the Cyclones’ offense in each of their matches was the number of fouls and cards awarded to each team.

The winner of each match was also the most cautioned, as Iowa State drew two yellow cards against UCSB, but trailed CSUN in this category 2-1. Each card was also awarded to a different Cyclone player, with Lindgren (72′) and junior midfielder Eva Steckelberg (85′) receiving the first two cautions in the Cyclones’ win against the Gauchos and freshman defender Tyra Shand (68′) being yellow carded in the loss to the Matadors.

Iowa State also committed 13 fouls in the loss to the Matadors, compared to 12 from its opponents. This was the highest number of total fouls that the Cyclones accumulated in a single match since their 2-2 draw with Oklahoma on March 13, when they committed 21 to the Sooners’ 20.

Iowa State faces in-state rivals University of Iowa next, in this season’s edition Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series on Thursday. The match is set to kick off in Iowa City at 6 p.m. and is being televised on the Big Ten Network.