In its first exhibition game of the season, the Iowa State Cyclones travel to Cedar Falls to face off against the Northern Iowa Panthers on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex.
Last season, these teams faced off in a regular-season game in Ames, where an early second-half goal by then-junior forward Jordyn Rolli gave the Panthers the lead to beat the Cyclones 1-0, which is the only soccer game that the Panthers have won against the Cyclones.
Iowa State’s one-goal loss to Northern Iowa was one of nine games that resulted in a one-goal loss for the Cyclones.
Rolli is back for her senior season, as well as four other Northern Iowa players who cracked the starting 11 in at least eight games last season.
Meanwhile, Iowa State returns seven players who appeared in the starting 11 in at least eight games last season, including junior goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg — who led the Big 12 in saves with 103 — three defenders and three players who played in the midfield or at the forward position.
Iowa State finished last season with a losing record of 4-14-2 (2-6-1 Big 12) and in eighth place out of 10 in the Big 12.
Northern Iowa, on the other hand, had a winning record of 9-7-3 (4-3 MVC) and tied for third out of eight in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Panthers had a plus-15 goal differential (32-17) in 19 games; meanwhile, the Cyclones had a negative goal differential, minus-15 (18-33) in 20 games.
Winning on the road is something that the Cyclones struggled with, as they have a record of 1-6-2 in road games this season.
Including its exhibition against the Panthers in Cedar Falls, the Cyclones are going to play 11 games on the road, including seven out of nine of its regular-season games and five games this season that are against teams ranked in the United Soccer Coaches preseason top-25 poll.
“What it does [playing on the road], especially in the non-conference part of the season is that you are able to build more unity and camaraderie on those bus trips and flights,” Iowa State coach Tony Minatta said.
Senior Iowa State midfielder Hannah Cade sees playing that many road games as a positive thing, but also a challenge.
“I think it’s a challenge, because it’s hard to get in the flow of things when you're always on the road, but it also benefits because we're on such a schedule that we all know,” Cade said.
The Cyclones game against the Panthers will be its first of two exhibition games, the second being against the Drake Bulldogs in Ames at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cyclone Sports Complex.
Northern Iowa won exhibition game on Sunday against the Eastern Illinois Panthers 4-0 in Charleston, Illi.