Soccer reflects on missed opportunities, looks toward next season

Sophomore forward Koree Willer cuts past a TCU defender towards the goal. Iowa State beat TCU 1-0 on Oct. 31 after scoring in the final minutes of the game.

Trey Alessio

The Iowa State soccer team had high expectations heading into the 2014 season, but didn’t live up to them after a season filled with narrow losses and unfortunate breaks.

“Everybody looked at this season as a huge missed opportunity,” coach Tony Minatta said.

Iowa State had seven one-goal losses, including four to Big 12 opponents. Minatta said if the Cyclones took away those losses, they would be not only in the Big 12 Tournament, but the NCAA Tournament as well.

“It’s such a short, fast season that I think them realizing if they put a little bit more into those games to get those wins, they’d be where they want to be at,” Minatta said.

The high point of the season came when the Cyclones beat their in-state rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes, on Sept. 5. Senior Alyssa Williamson made the game-winning shot to beat Iowa, 2-1. It was the first time Iowa State had beaten Iowa since 2005. Minatta said beating the Hawkeyes was like taking a monkey off of Iowa State’s back.

“Getting that game out of the way and now moving forward in the future, we don’t have to worry about [beating Iowa] as much anymore because we’ve already done it,” Minatta said. “Now we can focus on what the ultimate goals are — establish yourself as a consistent performer in the conference, make it to the conference tournament and eventually, hopefully get into the NCAA tournament.”

The Cyclones went 1-7 in the Big 12 Conference this year, only beating TCU in the final game of the season. They scored only three goals overall in Big 12 play, but the TCU win was a good way to go out in many of the Cyclone’s eyes.

For senior Andrea Swanson, who recorded 83 saves on the season, the TCU win was a way to go out on top.

“I think [the TCU win] set us off on a better note in knowing what we’re capable of for the future and preparing us for the offseason,” said sophomore Koree Willer.

The Cyclones will get some time off to mentally and physically recharge. They will begin strength and conditioning work in the spring, which Minatta said will be a lot similar to what they did last year.

“We are always researching and looking for innovative ways to help them improve and develop technically and tactically,” Minatta said. “We’re going to do a little bit more film in the spring than we did in the past, and we’re going to introduce a little more functional training as opposed to just the technical stuff to build our soccer IQ and get more on the same page with that.”

Iowa State finished with an overall record of 7-11, which is not where they had hoped to have been at the beginning of the season, but the team is optimistic about the future.

“We’re really excited about the [2015] recruiting class,” Minatta said. “It’s a very talented group, really high character and athletes that are really driven.”

Willer said there’s no reason why the Cyclones shouldn’t make the Big 12 Tournament and even the NCAA Tournament next year.

“I think we’re going to put a lot of time in to adjusting what we need to and refocusing for next year,” Willer said.