Minatta teaching team how to play at altitude

Women’s soccer head coach Tony Minatta watches the Cyclones play against NDSU on Sept. 13, 2015. The Cyclones lost 2-3 in overtime.

Zane Douglas

What do cherry juice and dark chocolate have to do with college soccer?

The sport of soccer is so heavily dictated by endurance and health. The Iowa State soccer team saw it when it had to play Purdue last Sunday in considerable heat, and they’ll see it again this weekend as they travel to Colorado to take on Denver on Friday, and Colorado on Sunday.

“He has a theory that cherry juice and dark chocolate is the way to go,” said redshirt sophomore midfielder Marin Daniel about coach Tony Minatta.

Maybe Minatta is onto something. 

“We just need to make sure we are doing proper recovery on Saturday,” Minatta said.

Minatta is from Colorado, so he knows how this can affect players, and will probably be able to handle that well. He went on to say that the Sunday game will be tougher because everyone will be used to the altitude change, while Friday won’t have that problem.

Just like the Purdue game, the team expects to see a heavy dose of substitutions to keep players fresh on Sunday.

Dayja Schwichtenberg, the team’s sophomore goaltender, will not need a substitution, so she needs to be at her best if the team wants to end the recent misfortune.

“I think it’s going to take staying focused defensively in the first five minutes and last five minutes of each half,” Schwichtenberg said.

Schwichtenberg has been solid this year so far, but has not enjoyed the final five minutes of each half.

Schwichtenberg will need to trust her defense this weekend — especially with the increased substitution count.

Senior midfielder and co-captain Emily Steil talked about the effects of the altitude as well and cited Minatta’s affinity for cherry juice and dark chocolate to help with the altitude shift, but on a more serious note, she explained what it will take to stay healthy this weekend.

“More than anything, taking care of our bodies,” Steil said.

Steil has been a force this year for the Cyclones and after a few tough losses, Iowa State will need to use Minatta’s expertise and Steil’s leadership effectively as they head to the challenging climate.

“Keep grinding,” Steil said.

The Cyclones face Denver at 8 p.m. on Friday and Colorado at 1 p.m. on Sunday.