AMES, Iowa- Senior forward Hayley Womack came within inches of scoring her first goal of her senior season on multiple occasions in Iowa State’s first four games. Womack’s shots just always seemed to sail a bit wide or high. That all changed on a chilly September night.
In the 57th minute, the Cyclones were trailing rival Iowa 1-0 when junior Haley Albert headed a perfect pass to a streaking Womack towards the Hawkeye goal. Womack wasted no time floating a shot towards the left post of the goal, though instead of sailing wide or high, this time the ball ricocheted off the post and into the back of the net. Womack scored her first goal of the year and perhaps signaled a new era in Cyclone soccer. The senior had just tied up the game 1-1 and gave Iowa State new life.
“It felt pretty great,” Womack said. “The first shot that I had went barely wide of the post and I was just like are you kidding me? After getting that second shot and getting the goal it felt amazing. I was so excited and ran to my teammates. It kind of was something I needed to help me. That win was huge. Being here the last three years we hadn’t beat them and had lost some of them pretty badly. It was so hard to take. Once we got that win, not only was it huge for us as a team it was also huge for our program. It showed that with Tony being here now everything is going to move forward. I think that it was huge for our program.”
With new found confidence, Iowa State was able to get another goal from fellow senior Alyssa Williamson and defeat the Hawkeyes 2-1 for the first time in nine years, snapping Iowa’s 30-game streak of non-conference games without a loss. It was just the kind of win the Cyclones needed to prove they were a program to be dealt with and it all started with a much needed goal from Womack.
For Womack, it was just the start she had hoped for in the beginning part of her senior year. Her previous three seasons had been successful, but each had highs and lows as Womack never started more than four games in a season. She wanted to make sure this year, her senior year, meant something more.
“I wanted this to be an outstanding senior year and to help put our mark on the program,” Womack said. “This summer I put in a lot of extra work. My goal was to come in fit and be ready to play. With this being my senior year I don’t want to regret anything after I’m done, I try and make sure that every game and practice I put everything I have out there. I will do whatever I can to help the team.”
Womack originally committed to Northwestern out of high school, but before leaving for Evanston, Ill. she found out that her scholarship was no longer available and she would have to find a new team. After a few phone calls, Womack was ready to begin her collegiate career in Ames, Iowa. It all seemed to work itself out and for the better.
Womack has enjoyed her Iowa State career and was a part of last year’s Big 12 tournament qualifying team. But before her senior year had started she found out that she would have to face another road block. The Cyclones would be under the direction of a new coach her last season in Ames and she wasn’t sure who the new coach would be or if the new coach would be a good fit for her. Iowa State hired then assistant coach Tony Minatta and Womack couldn’t be happier to play her last season under Minatta’s direction.
“Practices have a lot of focus and a purpose now,” Womack said. “Just after the preseason you could see that the team was so much more ready for that first game then we have been in years past. Tony’s knowledge for soccer is amazing. All of the practice drills we do he gets from other areas like Italy and a lot of other places. It’s very helpful to work on our technique. Just to be able to play together, we do a lot of stuff that helps us get used to each other as players.
So far this season Womack has started every game for the Cyclones and been one of the team’s key offensive weapons. The speedy senior has led Iowa State to one of the most exciting starts in school history. Womack knows that this is just the beginning for herself and for the team. The Cyclones are here to stay and Womack is ready to take the next step.
“As a team and what I want for my senior year is to go back to the Big 12 tournament and to finish better than we did last year,” Womack said. “Also the huge goal for me is to make it to the NCAA tournament my senior year.”
With the confidence she gained from one goal, Womack knows that anything is possible for herself and the Cyclones.