ISU women’s soccer team uses motto to prepare for regular season


Jenna Reeves/Iowa State Daily

Haley Albert poses at soccer media day.

Trey Alessio

Win the weekend. That’s the ISU women’s soccer team’s motto heading into the fall season.

After two exhibition games against Notre Dame and Northern Illinois, the Cyclones are only focused on continually improving and taking care of business against South Dakota and South Dakota State this weekend.

“We want to focus on the game at hand and win the weekend,” said junior Koree Willer. “We’ve been talking about the need to score a lot more than the other team doesn’t want you to score. You need to have that drive—that mentality.”

Senior captain Haley Albert said this past offseason was different than any other offseason she has been a part of. This year’s team is focused and determined.

“Usually there are a handful of girls that come in early and we work with our strength and conditioning coach; we’re lifting weights; we’re running,” Albert said. “But this year, instead of just a handful of players, we had like a good 80 percent a month before we were supposed to be here. Everyone was committed, coming in early and doing stuff on our own. It’s been unlike any other year.”

That commitment is what Albert believes will set this team apart from last year’s. She also has bought into the “win the weekend” mentality and has preached it herself, being a senior captain this year.

Albert said this opening weekend is a big one for the Cyclones.

“If we get a win this weekend, that should get the momentum going for the rest of the season,” Albert said. “We just need to take it one game at a time. South Dakota State is first and then we’re going to go in and we’re going to stay focused on that one game and after that game then we’re on to the next game.”

Based on the exhibition games, ISU head coach Tony Minatta decided the focal point of improvement needed to be defending set pieces, which are situations when the ball is returned into play following a stopping point. Along with set pieces, Minatta said he would like to see improvement on finishing. Those were the main points at practice this week.

“[The focus] has been on finishing, defending set pieces and continuing to maintain that same level of play on the field—connecting passes and getting into our attack quicker,” Minatta said. “South Dakota State is a tough team. They beat us last year, 2-1, made the NCAA tournament and lost to North Carolina but gave them a game. It’s a hard-working, blue-collar team—really organized.”

Finishing was something the Cyclones continually wanted to improve last season. Minatta said that was the tale of last year and the goals Iowa State gave up against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas—the heart of the Big 12—were corner kicks and free kicks, both of which were set pieces.

“We need to be sharp and, when we do get chances, we need to put them away,” Minatta said on what the Cyclones need to do heading into this weekend to improve from last season.

Minatta also said the Northern Illinois exhibition game was a frustration because Iowa State had 10 shots on goal and didn’t put any away. The Cyclones didn’t score in either of the exhibition games. Minatta said the finishing aspect needs to come with composure in the box, meaning the women need to be confident on offense and continue to shoot the ball even when some shots don’t go in the net.

Iowa State will attempt to attempt to win the weekend against South Dakota State on 6 p.m. Friday, August 21 in Brookings, S.D., and South Dakota at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 23 in Vermillion, S.D.