With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Cyclones are still searching for their first conference win. Their next opportunity to notch a win comes against the 18th ranked West Virginia in Ames on Friday night.
Iowa State is currently ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12, while the Mountaineers were picked to win the Big 12 this season in the preseason poll and are tied for first in the Big 12 with a 4-1 record in the Big 12 and 8-3-3 record overall.
“They are really organized and disciplined,” said coach Tony Minatta.
West Virginia is coached by Nikki Izzo-Brown, who has been the head coach for 23 years and has made the Mountaineers a nationally prominent program.
“It took her a while, it was in her sixth or seventh year there where she really built that program,” Minatta said. “They have an influx of top talent every year, and they keep the machine going.”
Statistically speaking, the strength of the Mountaineer team is their defense. The Mountaineers are 13th in the nation in goals-against average and second in the Big 12 in fewest goals allowed.
The Mountaineers have only allowed eight goals this season and have held their opponents scoreless in five of their last seven games. In the previous seven games, the Mountaineers have outscored their opponents by 13 goals.
“Their super fast, good in the air and they have very good soccer players, so they’ll play possession, work the ball around and stuff like that,” said senior co-captain Emily Steil. “More than anything we’ll have to bring that energy, work together and catch them on their heels."
The Mountaineers are led by four preseason All-Big 12 players: junior goalkeeper Rylee Foster, senior defender Easther Mayi Kith, senior defender Bianca St. Georges and senior Sh’Nia Gordon. St. Georges was named to the All-Big 12 first team and Kith was named to the All-Big second team last season.
Since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012, Iowa State has not been able to beat the Mountaineers. In last year’s matchup, the Mountaineers blew out the Cyclones 4-0 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Kickoff between the Cyclones and the Mountaineers is set for 7 p.m. at Cyclone Sports Complex.
“As long as we play our game, stick to what we know, defend hard, attack with speed and numbers and with a positive mindset, I think we’ll be fine,” said junior Kasey Opfer.