The CSU Rams women’s soccer team came out of the gate firing on Sunday afternoon, ultimately leading to a 2-1 victory over the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars.
The slow-paced Rams offense that was on display for the first half of Friday’s contest was nowhere to be found in this match as the Rams doubled the shot total of the Cougars, 14-7. The win puts CSU at 2-2-0 on the young season while SIUE falls to 1-2-1.
The win did not come easy for the Rams, though, who earned their first comeback victory in program history. After an up-tempo start to the game, SIUE’s Peyton Roehnelt received a cross from teammate Krista McMahan before volleying it into the back of the net. A game that was in favor of the Rams in terms of shots and time of possession suddenly flipped momentum to the Cougars.
“We felt like we were doing pretty good, and all of the sudden we’re down,” coach Bill Hempen said.
The Rams rebounded from the tough goal just two minutes later, after applying pressure in the attacking zone, the Rams were awarded a penalty kick after an SIUE defender touched the ball with her hand in the box. Kaija Ornes wasted no time, striking the ball over the hands of the diving goalkeeper to tie the game 1-1.
“Getting right back in the game was a big deal,” Hempen said. “To get back to even and kind of reboot and refresh is a credit to our kids. They just stuck with the game and found a way to win.”
After the break, the Rams continued to pressure the ball, leading to plenty of offensive chances. Freshman Alex Lanning finally broke the tie with the first goal of her collegiate career in the 77th minute. Defender Janelle Stone handled the ball on the right side of the field before sending a cross to a plethora of waiting Rams players. After deflecting off the head of forward Hannah Gerdin, the ball bounced towards Lanning, who was able to use every bit of her 5-foot 1-inch frame to header the ball into the net.
“I saw where the keeper was and I saw how high the ball was,” Lanning said. “My first thought was ‘Oh no, this is going over my head.’ But I just knew where to place it.”
“It ends up being a deflection and a little bit of hustle from little Alex,” Hempen said in regards to his player’s effort. “Sometimes they’re not bullets in the upper ninety, they’re little dinks over the keeper and in and they all count. That was an effort goal from Hannah all the way to Alex.”
Freshman keeper Natalie Dierickx earned her second consecutive start and complete game, along with her first collegiate victory.
The Rams now turn their sights to a difficult road trip against Big 10 opponents Iowa and No. 25 Northwestern.
“We’ll talk to some scouts about our upcoming opponents,” Hempen said. “But they’re all gonna be hard. You have to be on your game every time you step on the field, whether you’re playing a Big 10 team, Summit League team, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to play them all because everyone wants to win just as much. A little inch here and there and you’ve got yourself a victory.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_