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Cyclones feeling confident ahead of Cy-Hawk matchup

Jacob Rice
Head soccer coach Matt Fannon watches from the sidelines as Iowa State defeats Iowa on Sept. 9.

Iowa State soccer is coming off two straight wins to open the season and will look to carry that momentum into Thursday’s Cy-Hawk matchup.

After starting luckless last season, the 2-0 regular season start is welcomed. Counting the two preseason wins, Iowa State has started the season on fire. 

“I think our team culture has really been the driving factor,” Iowa State goalkeeper Avery Gillahan said. “We’re all working toward the same goal, and we are all fully bought into the program.”

Optimism is high with the team, as the four wins early in the season have brought life and confidence to the young team. With players buying into the program’s message and goal, the momentum is at an all-time high.

Although optimism is high, Iowa State head coach Matt Fannon is not going to be too quick to say that no one can stop them. It is early in the season and the road ahead will only get tougher.

“I think it’s really important that we temper expectations,” Fannon said. “You know, we’ve started well, but we’re two games in. There’s plenty to do.”

Although it is early in the season, the team is looking to build off the things they are doing right and continue working on the weak areas. The biggest thing that Fannon wants to do is avoid making the same mistakes as last season.

Although the playstyle of the team is not vastly different, the outcomes of the early season matches are. 

“The biggest difference I think is that previously we’ve managed to find ways to lose,” Fannon said. “Here we’re finding ways to win.”

The Cyclones are finding ways to win due to the talented roster and seasoned veterans. Fannon said that the transfer students have taken aspects from their game that they excelled at during their stints at other elite programs and brought it to Iowa State.

Along with the transfers, who are already stepping up into leadership roles, the freshmen are stepping up to fill the shoes of past seniors. With college sports comes turnover, so every year is a rush to find new stars to replace the old ones. However, Fannon has not let that stop him from putting together a solid roster.

“The truth is, that’s college sports,” Fannon said. “It happens every year.”

One player that has jumped out to an impressive start is Gillahan. She was asked to fill massive shoes at the start of the season.

The Cyclones lost their biggest star Jordan Silkowitz, who was drafted by the Kansas City Current, the first Cyclone to ever be drafted. Now Gillahan has come in and filled the role to perfection.

The team has only allowed two goals total in all four games of the preseason and regular season. Along with that, those goals were caused by major errors on the defensive side of the ball.

“Both of those goals are silly moments that can happen in the blink of an eye anyway,” Fannon said. “We’re not giving away big chances.”

Keeping the ball out of the net is a big reason that Iowa State has put together a run to start the season. Along with that, not giving away chances has been a crucial part of Fannon’s game plan.

Fannon said that chances are what creates offense, which is why Iowa State has seen success on the offensive side of the ball.

“Create enough chances, one of them’s gonna go in,” Fannon said. “Create enough havoc, you’re gonna create enough chances.”

Going forward, the Cyclones have a tough matchup ahead of them that will be decided by who creates the most havoc.

Iowa is a tough team to deal with, mainly because of how direct it plays. Iowa plays an aggressive, take it to the other team’s face, type of ball that can be hard to play against. That tough playstyle is a big reason that Iowa is also undefeated.

“It’s gonna be a gritty road game,” Iowa State forward Alex Campana said. “I think it’s important for us to just put our heads down and essentially delete the noise, since it’s gonna be a lot of noise, and get the job done.”

Iowa State came out on top in last season’s Cy-Hawk matchup which was played in Ames. Now the Cyclones have to travel to Iowa City. With the atmosphere in Iowa’s favor, anything could happen.

Along with it already being a tough road matchup, the heat wave rolling through Iowa could play a factor. The game was moved back from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. to try to beat the heat, although it might not be enough.

Fannon is not letting the heat be a reason to complain. He knows that the team just had to deal with the heat and play their best anyways.

“It’s gonna be hot on Thursday night, and I think whichever team complains about it the most will probably lose the game,” Fannon said. “The more you worry about the bits you can’t control, the less you worry about the bits you can.”

Fannon said that although it will be challenging, it is a winnable game. 

The Cy-Hawk game is set to start at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. The game will be streamed live on Big Ten Plus.

“This momentum that we have now, we feel really confident going into this game,” Gillahan said.

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