Effort and intensity are things the Iowa State soccer team has prided itself on all season.
On Friday, it didn’t quite pay off as Iowa State (2-6) lost 0-2 to the Kansas State Wildcats (2-6) on senior night.
“These close losses have been the story of our season so far,” senior McKenna Schultz said. “But we just have to walk away knowing we left it on the field.”
It was the Cyclones’ third consecutive loss. Iowa State has been shutout in four of the last five games.
Kansas State came into the game off a 2-3 loss to No. 5 TCU.
Head Coach Matt Fannon said the Wildcats were much improved from what they showed earlier in the season. The Wildcats lost three of their games by three goals or more, including a 0-7 loss to Texas on Oct. 9.
“We nullified their biggest threat which was the ball over the top and the quick hit in,” Fannon said. “But they did a great job of putting numbers underneath the ball and packing it in to make it tough for us to score.”
A major theme of the game was missed opportunities for Iowa State.
Perhaps no opportunity was better than at 34:30 when the Cyclones had an indirect free-kick from inside the Wildcats’ box. This meant someone else had to touch the ball before it could be kicked. The Cyclones could not capitalize on the rare circumstance, as the Wildcats deflected the ball.
The game went into half tied 0-0. But Iowa State came out firing in the second, getting four quick shots within the first minute, to no avail.
“Soccer is not a sport where the team that has the ball more and gets more shots will win unlike other American sports,” Fannon said.
The Wildcats capitalized first as Brooklyn Entz squeaked a kick into the lower left-hand portion of the net at 51:38. Later in the match (76:02), Entz dribbled through the Cyclone defense and scored off a shot that was dropped by Iowa State goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz.
The Wildcats focused on getting as many players involved in the attack as possible. That put Iowa State in a position where a mistake would be costly.
“It’s definitely frustrating because we just didn’t make the best decisions to play on a few balls and it cost us,” said Tavin Hays, a senior.
Iowa State led the shot differential 20-10. The Cyclones also had more shots on goal than the Wildcats (6-3).
But the ball just could not find the back of the net. Multiple of the Cyclones’ shots missed by a close margin.
“I think tonight might have been our best performance of the season but it was the worst result so it’s tough to explain,” Fannon said. “A shot that goes an inch more to the left opens the game up for us.”
Iowa State’s 4-4-2 formation focused on working the ball from the outside towards the inside. This resulted in more corner kicks for the Cyclones since the ball was more in the hands of the forwards.
The Cyclones had eight corner kicks compared to one for the Wildcats.
The play was physical on both sides, with many difficult battles for the ball. Iowa State led the foul count 14-10.
“It’s important to be in the right position instead of just fouling to foul,” Schultz said. “We just got caught in a bad spot a couple of times.”
Fannon has employed the same starting lineup all season.
The 11 starters stayed in the game for the first 23 minutes before Meghan Carl subbed in for Lauren Holleran.
Another key contributor to the lack of scoring was three offside penalties called against Iowa State. Despite the fouls and penalties, Fannon said the team he is happy with where the team is at.
“We knew this was going to be a project and a process going in,” Fannon said. “I think if we can keep playing this way, I feel really confident that we’re heading in the right direction.”
This was the last home game for five Cyclones — McKenna Schultz, Shea Sullivan, Tavin Hays, Courtney Powell and Kassi Ginther. Schultz and Sullivan are defenders while Ginther, Hays and Powell are forwards.
The quintet has combined for 270 appearances, 146 starts, 17 goals and seven assists. They have played a combined 14,461 minutes for Iowa State so far in their careers.
“I’m going to miss the community and my team the most,” Schultz said. “Iowa State has such a family feel to it.”
The Cyclones will face the Kansas Jayhawks in the final game of the season on Nov. 6.
While the record isn’t exactly where Iowa State wants, Schultz said this season is memorable because of the friendships and effort to go beyond.
“This team is so amazing and loving,” Hays said. “We’ve come a long way and that goes to the effort we put in.”