From inconsistent play to team leader: Dayja Schwichtenberg’s increased role at goalie


Sophomore goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg catches an attempted goal during the first half of the game against UNI on Sept. 6. ISU lost 0-1.

Sam Stuve

After splitting time at goalkeeper last season, sophomore Dayja Schwichtenberg has solidified herself as the starting goalkeeper for the Iowa State Cyclones.

“I was here all summer and I worked really hard,” Schwichtenberg said. “Me and Bailey [Heffernon] worked on things together, and I think having another person to work off of is really helpful.”

Frazzled has been the word Schwichtenberg and assistant coach Jason Wichman have used to describe her freshman season. But now, Schwichtenberg has become a more consistent goalkeeper for the Cyclones.

Wichman serves primarily as the coach for the goalkeepers and has plenty of experience with coaching goalies at the collegiate level, as he has coached standouts such as Drake University’s Kalena Litch in 2010, Texas State’s Southland Conference Tournament MVP Lauren Frazier in 2011 and one of the best goalkeepers in Iowa State history, Maddie Jobe.

As the coach of the goalkeepers for Iowa State, Wichman has seen growth and improvements from Schwichtenberg this season.

“Her confidence and consistency have grown this season,” Wichman said. “She’s always had the athletic ability to do everything inside the goal, but now she’s more experienced and more consistent. She came in with very little soccer background. She’s very raw, but she’s a competitor.”

Schwichtenberg stood out as a goalkeeper at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, and was named to the all-state team twice. She played in nine games last season, starting six games, and had shutouts against Creighton, South Dakota State and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Although she had strong performances last season, Schwichtenberg played inconsistently, and she didn’t get the starting nod for most of the season.

“She was very inconsistent as a freshman, and there were times where some things were erratic at times, but now she has matured and grown as a player,” said coach Tony Minatta.

So far this season she has been the Cyclones’ “rock” as she has started at goalkeeper in all of the Cyclones’ games so far. In 10 of the Cyclones’ 13 games, Schwichtenberg has had five or more saves with her career-high eight saves coming against Texas Christian University and Texas Tech.

Schwichtenberg has made 46 saves this season; she has a 1.63 goals against average and a 75.6 save percentage on the season.

She also worked on becoming a more effective leader. Her effective play can be seen statistically, but her effective leadership can be seen on the field every game.

“She just gets better every day,” Minatta said. “She has taken an active role in learning and understanding what we want to do as a team. She’s just getting better and more confident with her saves, her feet and she’s really coming into her own.”

This season Schwichtenberg has stepped up as a player and a leader, and she has become one of the loudest voices on the field.

“She’s a leader,” said sophomore defender Shea Sullivan. “She keeps our backline organized, and she is one of the voices that you hear the entire game.”

Schwichtenberg has made it one of her goals this season to become a more effective leader for the Cyclones.

“I think on the field we need a lot more communication, and that’s where I come into play,” Schwichtenberg said. “I’m making sure that I’m speaking to my midfield, my defense, my offense the whole time and making sure that I’m keeping up my communication.”

One contributing factor to her rise as a leader for the Cyclones has been the team chemistry the team has. The Cyclones are a close-knit team, and their team chemistry has held the team together this season.

Because of the support she has gained from her teammates, Schwichtenberg has become a good young leader for the Cyclones.

“For a sophomore to have that leadership and that maturity is pretty awesome to see,” Minatta said.