The Iowa State soccer team went through a roller coaster ride of emotions in the season's opening weekend.
After falling to the No. 4 University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins 0-3, the Cyclones defeated the University of California-Irvine Anteaters 1-0 to put up their first win of the season.
The only goal of the weekend was scored by redshirt freshman Kenady Adams, who was injured all of last season.
“It was pretty cool to score in an actual in-season game, you know, it’s a great feeling to get back out here and do what I love,” Adams said.
Adams scored in the 4-0 exhibition win over UNI in the preseason, but that was her first taste of a regular-season goal, which is a whole other set of emotions.
Although Adams’s goal was a shining moment for the weekend, the defense had quite a game itself as well.
Iowa State held UC Irvine to a total of 11 shots, many of which were from well beyond the 18-yard box.
“They [UC Irvine] really only broke us down a couple times in the game, which is pretty good against a team with that kind of offensive firepower,” said head coach Tony Minatta.
According to Minatta, part of the reason for the Cyclones’ defensive success against UC Irvine was the formation and defensive pressure.
Minatta has installed a 4-4-2 set, similar to the one used by the Spanish professional football club Atletico Madrid — a team Minatta has used as a reference point for his defense before.
“I think it [the 4-4-2] allows us to break out on the counter more, and helps us stay organized defensively, which is very important because it leads to offense,” Minatta said.
Minatta believes that this style of defense helps frustrate opponents, which in turn makes them break down in key moments late in games.
The goal scored by Adams was in the 69th minute, which is considered late game for collegiate soccer. This shows there are hints of success with the game plan in the early season.
The biggest concern with that type of defense is the level of trust among defenders to not get burnt when the ball does get past the front line, since there are not as many defenders back.
“When we do face goals, we have faith in whoever is in that net to make a save,” Minatta said.
Iowa State goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg collected her fifth career shutout in the win over the Anteaters on Sunday.
Heading into another tough week of competition, the Cyclones will look to the defense to continue its progression.
The Cyclones will begin the week with a trip to Iowa City on Thursday to battle in-state rival Iowa as a part of the annual Cy-Hawk Series. On Sunday, the team will host its first regular season home game against Purdue.