The scene set for the Iowa State woman’s soccer team heading into the week was described as “bittersweet” by senior midfielder/defender Marin Daniel.
Iowa State’s Thursday night matchup with the No. 25 Kansas Jayhawks was special for Cyclone soccer for many reasons.
Despite falling 2-1 to the Kansas, the game had provided an opportunity to end the season on a high note.
The game against Kansas was also the final home game and final regular season game for the Cyclones, which meant it was senior night. The Cyclones had to say goodbye to four graduating seniors who played their last match in the cardinal and gold.
Those seniors were: midfielder/defender Marin Daniel, forward Merin Mundt, midfielder Hannah Cade and defender Carly Langhurst.
On top of senior night, the game marked the final appearance of six-year head coach Tony Minatta, who announced his resignation as coach on Tuesday.
“I was really proud with the way everyone handled it,” Cade said. “I think that everyone stayed calm when we all could have been freaking out and worrying about what’s coming next and we all just focused on what was at hand and what was at stake here.
"That really showed on the field tonight, everyone just went out and gave it their all.”
Daniel, Cade and Langhurst all found starting spots for the game. An injury for Mundt didn’t allow her to suit up for her final game.
This match concluded a four-year journey for each player with a series of highs and lows.
All four players started their collegiate journey in the 2016 season, which saw the Cyclones post a record of 10-8-1 — one of the best team records in recent years. The season saw the Cyclones lose to Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship tournament by Oklahoma.
They didn’t see the same level of success for the following seasons, posting a 3-12-3 record in 2017, a 4-12-2 record in 2018 and a 3-15 record in the 2019 season. Despite this, they expressed happiness with their time spent in Ames.
“It’s going to sound cheesy, but it meant the world to me,” Daniel said. “Those girls are my best friends and I’ll cherish those memories forever, even if the results didn’t necessarily show that.”
Minatta's resignation added another layer to the evening.
After the announcement — which surprised many — Minatta stuck with the squad to finish out their final game of the 2019 season and celebrated with the team on senior night.
Minatta took over for the Cyclones in December of 2013 as the fifth coach in the program's history. His tenure with Iowa State was highlighted with the 2016 season.
Minatta was the one who brought in all of the seniors celebrating their final match on Thursday night.
While Minatta wasn’t available to speak, the response from the seniors spoke volumes to what Minatta meant to them and to the soccer program as a whole.
“He was the one who recruited me and he gave me an opportunity to come here and fulfill my dream of playing collegiate soccer and for that, I’ll forever be grateful,” Cade said. “He gave his all for us and for this program and that doesn’t go unnoticed.”
After four years of representing Iowa State on the pitch, there have been plenty of moments and memories which have stuck with the players — whether they be specific moments or time spent with the team in general.
For Hannah Cade, her moment was the double overtime win against the then-No. 24 Baylor Bears. Cade was credited with the assist leading to the game-winning golden goal which prevailed the Cyclones in double overtime.
For Marin Daniel, there wasn’t a specific moment, but she cherished spending time with the team and all of the bus rides.
So even though the Cyclones didn’t finish the year with how they planned and the record didn’t show it, the team was satisfied with their efforts and their drive all season long.
“Obviously you’re going to lose your team and coach and then it’s your last game, but I think we came wanting to work hard for Tony and for us for the last game,” Daniel said.