Following their first win of conference play, the Iowa State soccer team is gearing up for its final game of the season before the Big 12 tournament.
Coach Tony Minatta confirmed on Tuesday that senior Riley Behan would not make it back before the end of the season, even if they made the Big 12 tournament. Behan suffered a serious foot injury before the start of the season that sidelined her for the rest of the year.
Redshirt Junior, Kasey Opfer, has had lingering leg issues all year and will miss the Thursday game against Kansas State due to an ankle sprain.
Minatta said it was “not likely” that Opfer would play in the tournament were the Cyclones to make it there.
Opfer has been one of the most effective Cyclones on the offensive end this season, but her injuries have limited her abilities.
Due to Opfer's injury, Minatta has elected to move redshirt sophomore Marin Daniel to the midfield spot that Opfer played, while having freshman Taylor Bee start in Daniel’s place at center back.
Daniel was moved to center back this year from midfield, so she should not have too much trouble adjusting to her position change.
Bee has started four games and accumulated a total of 780 minutes while playing in all 18 games for the Cyclones this year. She has been a popular spot-starter when Opfer has missed time.
Thursday is an important day for the Cyclones. To qualify as the last team in the Big 12 tournament, they need to beat Kansas State, and TCU needs to beat Oklahoma State.
If all of that were to happen, then the Cyclones and Cowgirls would end their conference play with identical 2-6-1 records. Iowa State beat Oklahoma State last weekend, meaning the Cyclones would hold the tie\breaker.
The Cyclones get the benefit of playing the last place team in the conference, as Kansas State sports an 0-8 record in leagueplay. Iowa State also gets home-field advantage in its matchup.
While Oklahoma State also has the home-field advantage, they have to play TCU, who sits at fifth in the conference.
If the Cyclones lose or tie against Kansas State, then they are eliminated, and if the Cowgirls win or tie against TCU, then the Cyclones are also eliminated.
“[We’re] in a position to go [to] the Big 12 tournament again,” Minatta said, “Which, given everything that we’ve overcome injury-wise and all that, nobody really expected.”