Tactical changes, “special new players” debut for Cyclone soccer


Liz Parke

Iowa State freshman Lauren McConnell moves with the ball against TCU in the Big 12 Women’s Soccer Tournament on Oct. 31.

Luca Neuschaefer-Rube

The Iowa State soccer team is set to start this year’s spring soccer campaign with excitement for a pair of games Saturday in Des Moines.

The Cyclones will start this year with two shortened games against Western Illinois and Drake on Sunday.

The fall season ended with a loss in penalty kicks in the Big 12 Championship quarter-finals against No. 8 TCU, concluding the year with an overall record of 5-11-1.

The trip to the Big 12 Championship was the team’s first since 2018 as well as the first under Head Coach Matt Fannon. The season left the team disappointed with their record but also with the feeling that it didn’t really reflect the team’s progress.

“We played really well in a bunch of games that we didn’t win. I would argue that we should’ve won far more than we did last year,” Fannon said.

Senior midfielder Eva Steckelberg said the record doesn’t reflect the team’s development and the change of their mindset.

The spring is the team’s first chance to show that.

“I definitely think our record doesn’t show how much we have improved as a program, which is very frustrating for us, but as a player on the team we can feel how different it is,” Steckelberg said.

Under Fannon, the Cyclones have undergone big changes in the team’s tactics and approach toward the game. The style of play under former head coach Tony Minatta was very different from the way Fannon wanted the team to play, leading to a few years of rebuilding.

“We wanted to play our brand even with the players that maybe weren’t quite suited to that brand, so that the ones that were could lead us forward.”

Going into his third season as the head coach, Fannon has rotated a lot and brought in players that suit his style of soccer. This development makes him optimistic for the future.

“It gives us the chance to be stronger at what we want to do,” Fannon said.

Senior goalkeeper Georgia Wimmer said the team wants to use this spring soccer campaign to implement what they have been working on since the end of the last season. Team chemistry and overall tactics remain the biggest focus for the Cyclones in the limited spring action.

“Obviously, we want to win but I think it’s way more important for us to try to get down the tactical things we’ve been working on instead of just reverting to our old way of playing to just get the result,” Wimmer said.

To win more games in the upcoming fall season, the team wants to concentrate inside the penalty areas. Fannon also worked on installing a winning mentality inside the team.

This spring is going to give players that haven’t played a lot yet the opportunity to prove themselves and help determine how much they will play in the future.

The Cyclones are starting into the spring with a lot of new players, including international players from France, Switzerland, Austria, England and Canada. Fannon is excited about the team’s roster. 

“We feel really good about the depth we’ve got in different areas that we maybe haven’t had in the past and because of that and because of some of the leaders we’ve got I think we feel really confident,” Fannon said.

Wimmer is excited about the international players in the team. Having them “brings a whole new level,” she said.

Steckelberg said it is interesting to see the new players, their playing style and where they come from.

“We have some really special new players who have a lot of different playing styles that definitely add to the dimension of our team,” she said.

The Iowa State soccer team will start into the spring soccer season on Sunday in Des Moines with their game against Western Illinois kicking off at 3 p.m..