The Colorado State women’s soccer team got a taste of what big time collegiate soccer is like Friday afternoon when they played rival Colorado in the first meeting ever between the two teams on the Division I level at Prentup Field in Boulder.
In a contest that looked like a mismatch on paper, the Rams held their own with one of the Pac-12 ‘s best teams until the 75th minute when CU sophomore Brie Hooks struck a ball from 18 yards out that clanked off the bottom of the crossbar and in for a goal. Freshman Brittney Stark quickly added the Buffaloes’ second goal in the 79th to shut the door for good on the Rams and preserve a 2-0 win. But despite the close loss, CSU Coach Bill Hempen was pleased with how his young team played.
“We played a good first half and had the ball on our side plenty,” Hempen said. “We knew it was going to be a tall task heading in.”
The Buffs returned the majority of a squad that finished 14-7-2 last year while advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. For the Rams, though, 2013 was their inaugural season in which they won just two games while playing with mostly non-scholarship athletes.
Though there was an obvious frustration in the second-year coach’s voice, Hempen acknowledged that the result was not unexpected.
“It was a 2-0 game, and that’s probably what it should have been, no more no less,” said Hempen.
The match was a part of the Colorado Cup, which is a series of matches between CSU, CU, Northern Colorado, Colorado College and University of Denver. A trophy is awarded to the winner of the in-state competition.
The Rams opened their 2014 campaign by overwhelming Division II Colorado Mesa 7-0 in an exhibition match last week, so for Hempen and his team, it is a matter of trying to emulate that type of play and success.
“(CU) was a new barometer for us, seeing a Pac-12 team like that. It helped us see what it will be like competing in our conference, but we can’t come out next time and think we’re good. We’re going to have to prove it all over again,” said Hemper.
The Rams will have a chance to capture their first win of the season and first ever home win against Northern Colorado Thursday in another Colorado Cup game.
CU’s next match is also against Northern Colorado on Sunday, which will also count toward the Colorado Cup.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.