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Home field advantage to play key role in Iowa State’s matchup with No. 17 Memphis

Matteo Bender
Kristin Boos hyping up her teammates before the CyHawk Soccer Game, University of Iowa Soccer Complex, Aug. 24, 2023.

Iowa State soccer returns home from its three-game road stint to take on No. 16 Memphis on Thursday.

The home game will be challenging compared to early matches in the season, but the return home will be a good way for the team to catch its breath. The Cyclones started the season off 2-0 but have since lost their last two matches.

Both Iowa and South Dakota State took close matches against Iowa State last week. Now the Cyclones will treat the next two home matches as a way to swing momentum in their favor.

“I think it will be a good reset for us,” Leia Khairy said.

The loss to Iowa was a game that came down to the last minute. Iowa State had the momentum late in the game after being down 2-0.

After cutting the game to one point, the Cyclones came just seconds away from tying it up before the final whistle blew.

“I think if we had five more minutes, it would have been a totally different game,” Khairy said.

The opposite story played out against South Dakota State. The Cyclones led for the majority of the game but let two goals slip by in the final 15 minutes to allow the Jackrabbits to pull ahead.

In both games, it looked as though they couldn’t quite put together two solid halves of play. Things went wrong in each half, which Iowa State head coach Matt Fannon knows cannot happen when going up against strong competition.

“It’s so hard when you’re out of sync to get back into sync,” Fannon said.

Now that the Cyclones are getting off the road, they have a chance to get back in sync. Fannon knows that when the team is playing as one, there’s no stopping them.

However, in the final stretch of the road stint, some things were a bit off. When the final outcome came down to the wire, those little things mattered.

“That’s the game. Sometimes you get it a bit wrong, and we got it a bit wrong,” Fannon said.

Fannon is not letting the small mistakes keep the team from growing. Going through the rough patches early on will help the team sooner than later.

Last season the learning curves came in the conference season which caused the team to go winless in the Big 12.

“We learned these lessons midway through conference season last year,” Fannon said. “So, I’m happy we’re learning them now.”

For now, the Cyclones are focused on themselves going forward. The key to success in the tough upcoming games will be how they can handle the losses. The team knows that they have to be strong and put the games behind them. 

“Finding ways we can prevent that and maintain resilience,” Jocelyn Bice said.

If the team can overcome the slight road bumps, they can get back to playing the game they know they can play. The losses to Iowa and South Dakota State showed the team what happens when they do not play their best.

Going forward the Cyclones need to get back to the team that started 2-0. That starts with focusing on their own identity.

“We’re more so focused on our style or play and ourselves and getting back to where we started the season,” Bice said. “I think after losing to Iowa and losing to South Dakota State, we’re just trying to get back to where we were when we were playing Arizona, and playing how we wanna play.”

The Cyclones have a tough test ahead as they head back home to take on a nationally ranked team in Memphis. Memphis is 3-1 on the season with its only loss coming at the hands of No. 7 Alabama.

Memphis will be another aggressive team that has no trouble putting balls in the nets. Similar to South Dakota State, the Cyclones will be in for a tough day on defense. 

“Look, we’re playing one of the best teams in the country on Thursday, so if we play like we did on Sunday, we’re in big trouble,” Fannon said. “Simple as that.”

Iowa State will take on Memphis at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Cyclone Soccer Complex in Ames, Iowa. The game will also be streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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