Leadership council, freshmen push ISU soccer team



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Trey Alessio

ISU head soccer coach Tony Minatta has called this year’s team one of the deepest classes he has been part of, and a big reason for that stems from the freshmen on the team.

The Cyclones have eight freshmen on this year’s soccer team, and each one of them has been pushing the envelope at practice.

“These are players that come in and they want to play. They want to win. That energy is infectious for the rest of the team,” Minatta said.

Of the eight freshmen, a few have been early season standouts for Iowa State.

In the game against South Dakota State, freshman Taylor Wagner placed a corner kick to senior captain Haley Albert, who snuck it past the South Dakota State goalkeeper for the only point of the game.

“Taylor [Wagner] especially has come in and just been a really composed player who really just understands the game,” Minatta said. “Technically, she’s one of the best on the team — creative on the dribble. And that’s something that we really didn’t have last year — somebody who had her soccer IQ and her ability to attack on the dribble.”

Another freshman who has wowed Minatta and the rest of the coaching staff is Emily Steil. She earned a starting spot when redshirt junior Mia McAleer and junior Danielle Moore went down with injuries.

“[Emily] is another heady, technical player who stays engaged the whole time,” Minatta said.

Klasey Medelberg is another freshman who has uplifted Iowa State. Minatta said she resurrected the team during the South Dakota game and gave the Cyclones a lot of energy. He said as soon as they put Klasey on the field, her energy and commitment to pressuring the back line made everybody else step up and play a lot harder.

“Those three, right now, are really affecting what we’re seeing in games, but all the freshmen are contributing with what they bring to practice,” Minatta said. “You can’t take a break at any point in time if you’re an upperclassmen because they want to get on the field.”

Another way the freshmen have contributed to the team is through a new implementation called the leadership council, which started last spring. The soccer team’s leadership council has representatives from every class to help each grade level on and off the field.

Wagner and Steil were the freshmen selected by their teammates to be a part of this leadership council.

“You’re pretty much the captains for your grade,” Steil said. “Each week we get a handout or something, and you just learn and grow as a leader — on and off the field. If there’s an issue in your class, people will go to you and you’ll try to solve the problem.

“It’s really just about growing as a person and a leader.”

Minatta said the eight players on the leadership council are all impactful on the field and he believes that will translate and help push the rest of the players to their common goals.

With the leadership council helping on and off the field, the freshmen continue to push the upperclassmen on the field.

“Practices are extremely intense. We definitely like to battle for that starting position because it’s important to everyone. Everyone feeds off that energy,” Wagner said.

Minatta said the team that played South Dakota looks completely different from the team that played Iowa last season. A big portion of that is attributed to the consistent effort and energy the freshmen have brought to practice and the games.

“Collectively, they’re really excited because now we’re as deep as we’ve ever been, and they’re excited for what that could potentially do for us heading into the season,” Minatta said.

The Cyclones will travel to California this week and play Long Beach State on Friday and Pepperdine on Sunday.