After a year of firsts that included the first win in program history, their first Mountain West Conference win, and their first result against a rival, the CSU women’s soccer team heads into its first offseason this winter.
After tying rival Northern Colorado in the final match of the year, the Rams leave behind their inaugural season on a high note. The season 2013 was full of unfortunate bounces, including two game-deciding penalty kicks off of incidental handballs, but CSU finally found some good luck in Greeley.
Some say it’s better to be lucky than good, but Bill Hempen’s squad had a little of both in their final match of the year.
“I think it gives them hope to finally not have one of those go against us. Over time those things will even themselves out in their career, but tonight was a good night for our program,” Hempen said after Friday’s game.
As they head into their first full offseason of training and conditioning, players and coaches alike are looking forward to building with the team they have as well as welcoming in a fresh class of recruits this summer.
One of the downfalls of this year’s squad will be one of its greatest strengths going forward; their youth. Carrying no seniors on this year’s roster led to some youthful mistakes but Hempen will return every player from this season and will only lose three to graduation next year.
One of the biggest bright spots this season was the Rams defense, led by juniors Catherine Ruder and Jami Vaughn along with sophomore Megan Speed. For Hempen, it all starts with defense.
“That’s the way I think it should be done. Every coach has a different way of doing things, but I think you start with your best players at the back and then work your way forward,” Hempen said.
The Rams struggled offensively for most of the season, something to be expected with a group who had only practiced together for a little more than a month before their first match.
With his first recruiting class Hempen hopes to bring in more scoring prowess to support returning goal-scorers Erika Bratschun, Sasha Pchenitchnikova, and Lizzy Gogolowski. But after preaching the importance of confidence in front of the goal and knowing the shot will go in instead of just hoping, Hempen saw his team’s work in practice come to fruition with Gogolowski’s two goals in the match against UNC.
“With all the shooting practice we had I knew exactly where to put it when I was in that position. He always talks about someone being there in front of the goal and I knew to be there and I put it in,” Gogolowski said.
One of the biggest competitions during the offseason will be at the goalkeeper position between upcoming senior Maggie Sherman and sophomore Elena Eidson. While Sherman spent the majority of the year between the posts, Eidson came up huge with seven saves in the second half of the UNC game giving Hempen two solid options in goal headed into next year.
“For her to step in under those circumstances was pretty big for our team,” Hempen said of Eidson’s play. “We saw the goalkeeper that’s we’ve been looking for, and it’s great for her to have a match like this at the end of the season.”
As they close the book on the first chapter of the Colorado State women’s soccer history books, Hempen and his squad will look for the continued daily improvement they showed throughout the year and begin building for the future of this program. After overcoming the adversity and frustration that comes with an inaugural season, they look to be on the right track.
Women’s Soccer Beat Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @kpopecollegian.