The Iowa State Cyclones soccer team is ready to begin their 2021-22 season after spending the last few weeks of summer training in Ames.
The last time the team saw the pitch before this summer was back in April when they scraped by Kansas State in a 1-0 win to finish off their spring season. Since then, the team has recruited new freshman to the squad and have been preparing for their first game against UC Santa Barbara on Thursday.
Having finished last season with a record of 3-6-4 with only two wins in the Big 12, the team will be hoping to improve in head coach Matt Fannon’s second season with the squad. Despite not having the best of seasons last year, Fannon has seen some encouraging signs from the Cyclones in training thus far and is excited to get the season started.
“I think there are a lot of encouraging signs like the attitudes and the atmosphere,” Fannon said. “Everybody wants to be a part of what we’re doing. We were very clear when we talked about the game model and a big part of what we do is you have to enjoy it.”
Fannon emphasized the team's togetherness and how the team must show a desire to want to work hard in training and win games this season.
“We work our women incredibly hard so they need to want that and desire that grind,” Fannon said. “But also they need to enjoy what they’re doing as they go along so we do everything we can to get that balance right.”
With that being said it seems as if a new culture is being created this season under Fannon as the players have also been buying into his philosophies in terms of training and going about the season.
The players have grown very close over the last few weeks of training and junior Kenady Adams commented on the excitement the team has being back together again.
“I think being back together and actually being able to build a team chemistry because we’re around each other more has been great,” Adams said. “I love being back and being able to play soccer but I think the best part about it is being closer to our teammates.”
With spirits high amongst the squad, the Cyclones are looking forward to their first match of the season on Thursday against UC Santa Barbra. UC Santa Barbara is coming off of a 3-0 victory in an exhibition against Westmont College and are looking for back-to-back wins.
Prior to that exhibition, UC Santa Barbara had not played a match since the 2019-2020 season due to COVID-19. The Gauchos are now looking forward to getting the program back and running after finishing that season with a record of 8-5-6.
The Cyclones have been eager to get back on the pitch as well and with the chemistry within the team getting better each day, there are bigger and better expectations headed into the season opener.
In addition to training well over the last few weeks, the Cyclones have brought in eight freshman for the new season which they hope will play a role not only against UC Santa Barbara, but for years to come.
Seven of the eight freshman have come from various countries outside of the United States and Fannon believes these new additions will help add to both the quality of the team and the squads togetherness on and off the pitch.
“It’s a big group and I think what we had very specifically said we had needed to do with this group after what we saw last year was, we needed some strong personalities,” Fannon said. “We needed some people coming in that were ready to hit the ground running, we needed people coming in who understood the game and we wanted to bring a different angle to the way that we play so that we have a lot of different qualities.”
By bringing in multiple players from European countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom and Austria, Fannon hopes that each member of the squad can learn from each other as they each have different views of the game.
American soccer is very fast paced and physical while the European game is very much so cultured on the ball and tactically aware of things happening on the pitch.
Supporters will see how well these two styles coincide when the Cyclones take on the Gauchos on Thursday evening in Santa Barbara, California.
Thursday’s match is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.