In some freshmen’s first game, there is a chance they could struggle to adjust to the pace and quality of play.
However, four Iowa State freshmen made a huge difference offensively on Wednesday, as redshirt freshman forward Kenady Adams and freshmen midfielders Claudia Najera, Eva Steckelberg and Mira Emma each scored a goal for the Cyclones in their 4-0 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers.
“Our freshmen are definitely studs,” team co-captain and junior midfielder Marin Daniel said. “They are working their butts off in practice, and it’s clearly showing.”
Scoring first was Adams in the 28th minute after she possessed and controlled the ball, shook off of a Northern Iowa defender and shot the ball over Northern Iowa senior goalkeeper Anna Kaiser.
Adams missed her entire freshman season due to an injury she suffered in the preseason, but she was in the starting lineup in Wednesday’s exhibition game.
“It’s been a long time coming to actually get on the field,” Adams said. “It was pure joy. There is no other way to describe it — this is why I play soccer.”
Following Adams’ goal, the Cyclones offense caught fire as Najera scored after a shot by junior forward Tavin Hays deflected off Kaiser. Then, Najera took advantage of the opportunity and scored in the 34th minute.
“I saw Kenady running into the box, and I knew I had to make it there,” Najera said. “So I got there, and I saw the open spot to score and took the chance.”
Iowa State’s offense couldn’t be stopped at that moment as Steckelberg scored off a corner kick in the 35th minute, and they would go into halftime with a 3-0 lead over Northern Iowa.
In the 63rd minute of the game, the Cyclones earned a corner kick, which was kicked by senior midfielder Hannah Cade, and Emma scored with a head that scored the final goal in the Cyclones 4-0 victory.
Despite its lopsided victory, there could be some cause for concern, because in the 14th minute of the game, starting junior goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg came out of the game with an apparent knee injury after she collided with a Panther player.
Schwichtenberg led the Big 12 in saves last year with 103.
“We took her out as more of a precaution,” Iowa State head coach Tony Minatta said. “We’ll see where Dayja’s at after we get her reevaluated, but Georgia [Wimmer] and Rachel [Vander Hart] have been doing very well in camp, and they’ve handled themselves admirably, and this will be an opportunity for them to see some minutes.”
The good thing for the Cyclones is that Schwichtenberg was able to walk off on her own, and the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
Northern Iowa was ineffective against Iowa State as they didn't score on three shots kicked, two of which were on-goal.
“Our communication got better as the game went on. We started off a little shaky, but that’s something we could work on,” Daniel said.
Iowa State outshot Northern Iowa in the first half ten to one and 17 to three in the entire game.
The Cyclones will return to Ames to host its final exhibition game this season against the Drake Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cyclone Sports Complex.