Underdog Cyclones prepare for top-seeded Baylor

Then-junior midfielder Kassi Ginther tries to keep the ball out of reach from University of Texas player Amber Stearns during their game at the Cyclone Sports Complex on Oct. 5, 2018. The Cyclones lost 2-1 after playing the first half in the rain.

Zane Douglas

Against all odds, Iowa State soccer heads to Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday to take on Baylor in the Big 12 tournament at 11:30 p.m. The Cyclones were the eighth and final team to make the tournament, while the Bears locked up the No. 1 seed.

“We’ve already played Baylor, we know what they’re [going to] do,” said coach Tony Minatta. “We just need to get ourselves as rested and healthy as possible.”

On senior night against Kansas State, the Cyclones were without redshirt junior midfielder Kasey Opfer and sophomore defender Shea Sullivan. Opfer and Sullivan are expected to play on Sunday, barring any setbacks.

For Iowa State, this is its first tournament appearance since 2016.

Statistically, Baylor is the superior team. Baylor has scored the third-most goals in the conference with 13 and allowed four goals, which is the lowest total in the Big 12.

Iowa State scored eight goals during conference play, and it gave up 14, which was tied for eighth and only better than Kansas State.

Senior defender and captain Jordan Enga has played a significant role all season for the Cyclones, and she knows there is one thing they can do better than Baylor.

“Hard work, the whole 90 minutes,” Enga said.

The Bears finished the season with a record of 15-4 (8-1 in Big 12) and the Cyclones finished at 4-13-2 (2-6-1 in Big 12).

Forward Camryn Wendlandt for the Bears is the Big 12 leader in goals during conference play and the Cyclones will have to pay close attention to her during Sunday’s contest.

The leading scorer on the Cyclone side is sophomore midfielder Kassi Ginther, who is enjoying a breakout campaign and finished the Big 12 regular season with the third most goals.

Iowa State will have momentum with it, and its depth will be as strong as it has been all season.

“Everyone’s [got to] rise up,” said senior midfielder Taylor Wagner. “We [have to] come together as a team.”

The Cyclones are coming off of their two conference wins of the season.

According to the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which last updated on Oct. 21, Baylor is the fourth best team in the country, and according to the United Soccer Coaches Poll, they are ranked 10th.

Despite this, the Cyclones put up a strong fight against the Bears in their last meeting.

Iowa State and Baylor will be the first matchup of the tournament, and after them, it will be Texas Tech facing off against Texas Christian. The winner of that will play the winner of the Cyclones and the Bears.

For Wagner, it’s simple:

“Get that dub.”