Cyclones will take on MSU in the season-opener for both teams at
With seven newcomers who all could see significant playing time, Hornbacher feels this could be one of her most athletic and competitive teams yet.
"We have a lot of players who can contribute, including more depth than we have ever had in the past and we are going to look to play a lot of players," Hornbacher said. "I've never had more of a challenge than I do this year of trying to figure out a starting lineup."
The Cyclones have a trio of seniors in Kristina Baumann, Deb Benakis and Amy Flores who will anchor a relatively young squad that lost five seniors from the 2004 team. Baumann is coming off an off-season leg injury after she tied for the team lead in points (12), goals (4) and assists (4). She ranks second in Cyclone history with 153 career shots. Benakis is making a change from the defensive side of the ball where she started all 20 games and played almost every minute to midfielder.
is an extremely athletic and explosive forward and we are looking for great
things from her because she has really bounced back strong and she looks the
best that I've seen her in a long time," Hornbacher said.
"Deb, on the other hand, is one of our most versatile players. She played midfield for her first two years here at ISU, played as a defenseman last year and now is switching back. Once again, she has done a great job with the transition process," Hornbacher said.
Benakis started all 38 matches in the 2002 and 2003 seasons at midfield and scored eight goals and notched three assists.
who stepped up her game in Big 12 play a year ago, scored game-winning goals in
each of ISU's consecutive wins over
"Amy is just dynamic in the air and we will look for her to be a leader this year and build off the success she had last season," Hornbacher said.
Starting in goal will be sophomore Joanna Haig, who was named to the 2005 preseason all-Big 12 soccer team. Haig earned eight victories in 2004, the most for a Cyclone goalkeeper since 1999, while her 1.39 goals-against average ranked second on ISU's single-season list.
Miss finished the 2004 season with a
Hornbacher says this weekend's matches are difficult to analyze because the teams don't know much about their opponents before the first game.
"We don't know which newcomers and players are going to play early on in the season, so we have no idea who will step up and be a major factor in the outcome of a match," Hornbacher said. "Both schools could play a number of different formations and we just have to prepare for everything and look for things we can exploit."