The Iowa State Cyclones (3-8, 0-2 Big 12) will face the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs (7-4-1, 1-1-1 Big 12) on Sunday.
In the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, the Horned Frogs received nine votes, placing them at No. 30 overall in the nation if the polls stretched past 25 teams.
The Cyclones feel they are prepared for the challenge as they are coming off a double-overtime thriller against No. 18 Texas Tech on Friday.
“Being able to keep up with the No. 18 team shows that we have so much potential and it shows that we’re able to hold up with any team no matter who it is,” said freshman Abbey Van Wyngarden.
In that game, the Cyclones seemed in control at times and were able to get 13 shots on goal.
Wyngarden put seven shots on goal herself against the Red Raiders.
But according to coach Tony Minatta, the number could be improved.
“We could really get some pressure from the middle better but I think our offense is really coming lately along as a whole,” Minatta said.
Defensively, the Cyclones couldn’t have asked for a better performance against Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders came into the game leading the Big 12 in nearly every single offensive category. Although the team lost, Minatta said it was the most complete performance of the season yet.
“We have the two best Big 12 teams out of the way (West Virginia and Texas Tech) and now we need to move forward and channel what we did on the field towards TCU,” Minatta said.
The Horned Frogs possess a similar offensive prowess to Texas Tech.
TCU is fourth in the conference in shots on goal (197) and goals scored (26) through twelve games.
In comparison, the Cyclones have six goals scored and 121 total shots.
"We’ve really done a better job lately of not going stretches without the ball on offense but we need to keep it up on the defensive end,” Minatta said.
The Horned Frogs tied 1-1 with the No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowgirls, but followed that with a 0-1 loss against the Texas Longhorns.
According to Minatta, the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders have very similar offensive schemes — they use the 4-4-2. Minatta says that should put the team at an advantage.
“We really just need to continue to stay organized defensively. We just need to continue to bring that energy and that fight because it’s all there,” Minatta said. “Our record may not show it but we’re in every single one of these games against the best teams in the country.”
One thing to keep an eye on heading forward is the status of junior goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg.
In the game versus Texas Tech, Schwichtenberg suffered a cut, resulting in eight stitches having to be placed in her leg.
According to Minatta, the injury will sideline her for about ten days.
Her replacement, freshman Georgia Wimmer, did well in relief, recording four saves in 102 minutes played.
“We teach everyone the same so we really don’t have many adjustments to make,” Minatta said. “I think Georgia showed she is more than capable as a freshman to handle pressure well.”
Wimmer's performance will be critical in a game where a single goal may be all that is scored.
The last three years that TCU and Iowa State have matched up, the game went into overtime. There may be a chance of another in the works for Sunday.
However, the Cyclones believe they can win if they bring the same energy from the Texas Tech game.
“We learn from our mistakes and learn based off what other teams do against us,” Wyngarden said. “We just need to keep driving and pushing together and [a conference win] is going to come.”
The action on the pitch against TCU is scheduled to begin at noon.