Koree Willer’s two goals aid ISU soccer victory


Junior Koree Willer hugs sophomore Maribell Morales after the first Iowa State goal. Morales scored the goal from 20 yards out and Willer had the assist. The Cyclones fell to NDSU 2-3 in overtime.

Trey Alessio

Koree Willer had 10 goals in 2014, so when her first goal of 2015 didn’t come until the sixth game of the season, some eyebrows were raised in the ISU soccer community.

Ten of 21 total ISU goals in 2014 came from Willer. Up until the Colorado game, she hadn’t connected for a score, but she was adamant that her scoring troubles opened things up for her teammates.

“I’m just focusing on competing every game and having an effect whichever way I can,” Willer said. “Whether that be the shot or the assist, I just want to take advantage of anything they give me. I’m really just focusing on doing whatever I can to help my teammates.

“With them being threats too, it opens up stuff for me and it’s kind of just a process. It’s different every game.”

Iowa State played Drake on Sunday in Des Moines, and Willer nailed two shots to take down the Bulldogs. She now has four goals in the last four games — two against Drake, one against North Dakota State and one against Colorado.

“Koree is getting more confident,” said ISU coach Tony Minatta. “The goal she scored against Colorado gave her a good wake-up. Even last weekend, she was pushing the pace and she was taking people on. It was kind of the Koree of last year.”

Minatta also said Willer is hitting her stride at the right time, and her confidence will transfer to the entire team heading into Big 12 play.

One of Iowa State’s goals is to compete and challenge every Big 12 opponent. If it does that, it hopes to come out of the Big 12 in a good position for postseason play.

An integral part will be Willer’s offense. Whether it will be goals or assists, Willer said all that matters is the team’s success.

“[Goals] are definitely something you want, but it’s not like, ‘I need this many goals,'” Willer said. “I’m going to go out there and do what I need to do to then get the result. It’s the process and then the result comes.”

Willer said there wasn’t a specific moment this season when the offensive piece began to click. It came by trying to stay persistent and just knowing that the goals would arise from the process.

“[The goals] will come,” Willer said. “I think it just comes with practice — just really getting into the groove of not letting specifics like number of goals or number of assists get in the way. Just going out and playing has been huge to get me in that mindset.”

Minatta said Sunday’s game against Drake wasn’t the Cyclones’ best soccer to date, but he was impressed with the level of competition.

“Everyone who stepped on the field competed, and that’s something that we didn’t have last weekend,” Minatta said. “For the team to respond after those two losses and come on the road again against a team that’s out to prove something to us, that’s great.”

Competition is something Iowa State will be focused on heading into Big 12 play.

“With everything that we got out of [the Drake] game, I think we can go [into the Big 12] feeling a lot better than we would if this game would’ve gone the other way,” said sophomore Lindsey Hendon.

The Cyclones will begin their Big 12 play when they play Texas Christian at 7 p.m. Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.