Cyclones women’s soccer team ends injury-plagued spring season

Tony Minatta, Iowa State Soccer head coach, talks to his team after their 2-1 loss against the Florida Gators Sept. 17, 2017.

Noah Rohlfing

Rain pounded the roof of the Bergstrom Indoor Football Complex on a cold, windy Friday night as the Cyclones played their final spring game.

The 70-degree weather that was forecasted in the weeks before was nowhere to be seen.

The rain, combined with a 3-1 loss to Drake, marked the end of a spring season plagued by injuries and reduced to three games (all indoor) by the unpredictability of the central Iowa weather.

Injuries were a common occurrence for the Cyclones during the 2017 season, losing junior left back Merin Mundt and sophomore defensive midfielder Marin Daniel to ACL injuries and sophomore midfielder/defender Carly Langhurst to a broken leg.

These injuries to key players, along with poor finishing, contributed to the Cyclones’ 3-12-3 record. 

This spring, the injuries have continued in large numbers. Langhurst tore her ACL in practice, and head coach Tony Minatta said that Iowa State was down to 12 healthy players by Friday night’s game (for reference, the Cyclones had 24 non-seniors on the roster entering spring ball).

Minatta said that he was welcoming the chance for his players to get healthy before summer and fall practices after being forced to go 6-on-6 and 7-on-7 during the last few weeks of practice. 

“It’s all about learning and growing,” Minatta said. “We lost just about everybody [this spring].”

The Cyclones made some experimental personnel decisions due to the lack of numbers, playing freshman Tavin Hays (who had been playing right back in spring practices as injuries mounted up) as a left winger and redshirt sophomore defensive midfielder Kasey Opfer at center back. 

The Bulldogs took advantage of the short-handed Cyclones, scoring once in the first 30 minutes and twice in the second 25 minute period. The Bulldogs used a strong pressing game to counter the Cyclones’ own scattered press and win the ball back in dangerous positions.

Iowa State is moving from a 4-4-1-1/4-4-2 hybrid to a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Minatta said that the Cyclones struggled to find balance without Daniel in the defensive midfield role. As a result, the Cyclones put together an inconsistent showing on the defensive end of the floor and were unable to consistently press the Drake backline.

Most of Iowa State’s effective attacks came up the sides of the field, with full backs McKenna Schultz and Riley Behan connecting well with Hays and Brooke Tasker on the wings. 

As was often the case in the fall, though, the Cyclones were let down by the final pass. 

Despite the narrow indoor field and the personnel issues, junior forward Klasey Medelberg said that the Cyclones had “no excuse” for being down 3-0 after the first two periods. 

“We can’t just relax because we’re playing Drake,” Medelberg said. “We need to come in as hard as we can.”

Medelberg, who scored the Cyclones’ only goal in the third period of the game, said that the spring season was important in that it gave opportunities to players who had not gotten many chances in the fall. 

Iowa State now waits for summer practices to begin, where the program will welcome nine incoming freshmen. Medelberg said that the freshmen tend to “come in with more energy” and that their energy will help the team when the regular season gets underway.

Minatta hopes that the freshmen will provide not only healthy bodies, but more competition for returning players. He also wants the Cyclones to build on the promise they showed in their first two spring games, against Nebraska and Nebraska-Omaha.

“We’ve had a really good spring,” Minatta said. “I think everybody’s in a good place.”

The rain continued as players and fans left Bergstrom following the game, coming down just as relentlessly as the injuries that continue to frustrate the Cyclones.