After recording their first home win in program history, the Colorado State women’s soccer team will look to continue its early season success Friday against Portland State.
The Vikings were a powerhouse in the Big Sky conference last season, going unbeaten in the regular season against conference opponents and only narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament after losing in their conference championship game. The program had strung together a 16-game winning streak, a Big Sky Conference record, in which they played over 478 minutes without allowing a goal. The shutout streak continued up until last weekend when Portland State fell 5-0 to #21 California.
The Vikings have posted a 1-1-2 record so far this season, opening with a win 1-0 over Utah Valley and tying Boise State and San Francisco 1-1 each before picking up their sole loss to the Golden Bears.
Friday will be a good measuring benchmark for Colorado State’s progress as a young program, with a match against undefeated Big 10 power Iowa looming on Sunday as well.
“The whole weekend is full of challenge for us,” CSU head coach Bill Hemepen said. “That’s what we wanted when we put the schedule together. We want to challenge our players. Win or lose, we want to teach them how to compete.”
Portland State returned several upperclassmen from last year’s dominant squad, including junior forward Tamia Hasan, who has already recorded an aggressive 15 shots through four games.
“She’ll certainly be someone on our scout list, as far as what to watch for and how we want to deal with her,” Hempen said of Hasan.
The Rams won’t be too focused on containing any one player though, according to Hempen.
“If you put too much attention on one player, though, someone else is going to have an opportunity,” Hempen said. “We’ll try and get good match-ups wherever she ends up on the field. We just have to make sure the right person is against her.”
The Vikings also feature a list of talented freshmen who have already proven themselves early in the season, such as forward Mackenzie Bean, who has scored two goals in her first five collegiate matches.
Hasan and Bean, along with midfielder Aurora Bodenhamer, lead Portland State’s threatening attack which has recorded 50 shots through four games, an impressive 12.5 per game, more than double CSU’s 6.0 shots per game.
The Rams will need to be stout defensively, keeping the ball out of the back and pushing downfield to midfielders and then forwards in order to stay dangerous against Portland State’s proven defense.
“We just need to stay disciplined and keep our shape,” said CSU senior defender Jami Vaughn. “If we all work together, it comes together. (The defense) needs to find our midfielders to find our forwards, and make smart decisions so they can do the creative end up there.”
Controlling the ball for long periods could prove difficult against the Vikings’ consistent defense, but CSU plans to keep building from the improvement the offense showed in ball possession against UNC.
“We’re trying to keep moving, making our runs, attacking the center-back and just trying to make it difficult for them (to control),” junior forward Giana Bertana said.
Bertana scored the Rams’ lone goal in their win over UNC.
“If we stick to what we’re good at and not play their game, I think we’ll be fine,” Vaughn added. “Finding runs inside and outside will give us an advantage because we play a little wider.”
The Rams will kick off against the Vikings at noon on Friday at “The Lagoon”, just east of the Student Rec Center. The Rams will be back at “The Lagoon” on Sunday against Iowa while Portland State will travel to Lubbock, Texas for a matchup against #10 Texas Tech.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @samlounz.