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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State soccer drops home matchup to No. 16 Memphis

Matteo Bender
Chloe Broughton and Avery Gillahan scanning the field for options during a goal kick at the Iowa State vs. Memphis match, Cyclone Sports Complex, Aug. 31, 2023.

AMES — The Iowa State soccer team was handed its third-straight loss of the season as No. 16 Memphis came out on fire in Ames to take down the Cyclones 4-1.

Although Memphis was active on the offensive end of the field, the Cyclones had chances throughout the night to stay in the game. Some missed opportunities went against them, and in the end, the Tigers were the victors.

As the Cyclones look to fix the mistakes and get back in the win column, they will get one more chance to turn the tides Sunday with another home matchup.

Iowa State could not cage the Tigers in the first

From the start, it appeared that Memphis would be the aggressor of the game.

Although the Cyclones had an opportunity early on to put a point on the board, Memphis shut down any chances Iowa State had near the net. After Memphis started to warm up, the Cyclones’ net was not safe.

Memphis got the first shot on goal between the two teams, but Iowa State goalkeeper Avery Gillahan picked up her first save of the day. Immediately after, Memphis got a save of its own as Iowa State’s Sophia Thomas took a shot right at the goalkeeper.

Memphis’ Saorla Miller used the momentum from the save and an assist from Mya Jones to put the first point on the board less than 20 minutes into the game.

Less than 10 minutes later, Miller got another chance near the net to put the Tigers up 2-0. Less than 30 minutes into the game, the Cyclones couldn’t put a lid on Memphis’ continued aggression.

“You do everything you can, but the truth of it is I think we’ve put them in a place where they’ve scored one really, really nice goal, and the ball’s dropped awkwardly from a set piece to get another one,” Iowa State head coach Matt Fannon said. “Again, that happens in every game. When the same thing happened on the other end, we didn’t take our chances.”

The rest of the half played out the same way as Memphis kept up the pressure. By the end of the half, Memphis outshot Iowa State 10-3. Along with the shots, Memphis also had nine corner kicks to Iowa State’s one.

Miller and Jones heat up Memphis offense

Iowa State attempted to flip the script early in the second half. The Cyclones were the aggressor, getting three shots in less than 20 minutes. Early into the second half, Iowa State was outshooting Memphis.

“We just did a slightly better job of executing what we were trying to do,” Fannon said. “It put us in a place where, yeah you’re right, we’re on the front foot and probably should’ve got a couple of goals early into the second half. If we get those goals early in the second half, the game is very different.”

However, it was Memphis’ Miller and Jones who continued to have their way with the Cyclone defense.

Miller got an assist 20 minutes into the second half, helping Jones pick up another goal for Memphis. The duo of Miller and Jones was unstoppable Thursday night.

Most big opportunities the Tigers had throughout the night came from the duo of Miller and Jones. Although Miller could not complete her hat trick, she still impacted the Memphis offense immensely.

“They’re some really special players that Memphis have,” Fannon said.

Miller did take three shots on goal, but Gillahan spoiled her chances at a hat trick. Jones also took three shots during the night, with two on goal.

Iowa State got on the board from a shot into the bottom right of the net from Kristin Boos, making the first goal of her Cyclone career.

Despite that goal, it was too little too late. The overpowering firepower Memphis had was too much for Iowa State to handle.

Just minutes later, Memphis’ Yui Suetsugu found her first goal of the night. Any chances of an Iowa State comeback were officially stopped.

With time running out, Memphis was still on the attack. Gillahan saved yet another goal to keep Memphis from piling on to its 4-1 lead.

Gillahan does what she needs to but could not save the day

Throughout the night Gillahan had her work cut out for her.

Shots were coming in left and right with no room to breathe. If she wanted to keep Iowa State in the game, she needed to be on point.

The Tigers were taking advantage of any opportunity the Cyclones gave them, but Gillahan shut down as much as she could. By the end of the first half, Gillahan had four saves—the most she has had all season.

Memphis had more shots on goal throughout the night than Iowa State had total shots. The Tigers finished with 12 shots on goal while Iowa State finished with eight total shots.

Of those 12 shots on goal, Gillahan ended with eight saves. In one night, Gillahan nearly doubled her season save total.

“[Gillahan] will make those saves all the time. They’re saves that we’re expecting her to make,” Fannon said. “They’re moments that I think she will expect to take care of as well.”

Every time Memphis tried to inflate its lead even more, Gillahan quelled the Tigers’ attack.

Although Gillahan’s performance did not change the outcome of the game, it’s a promising sign for Iowa State going forward.

Next up for the Cyclones is another home game against UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. Sunday, where they will look to stop the losing streak. The team knows that they can win, and they just have to go out and prove it.

“I think everyone’s gonna be chomping at the bit for Sunday at this point,” Fannon said. “I think as a player when something like this happens, and you play really well and somehow all the details kind of go against you, all the big moments go against you, you just wanna get back on the field quickly.”

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