Colorado State’s women’s soccer team battled back and forth with in-state and conference rival Colorado College Sunday afternoon in their most thrilling match of the season so far, but the Rams came away with a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.
The first half was controlled largely by the Tigers, but ended scoreless. The Rams struck first early in the second half with an Amy Eckert goal set up by junior Jessica Stauffer in the 49th minute. Eckert recorded her second goal of the season with the shot.
After the first goal, the Rams rallied for several ore dangerous looks set up by two consecutive crosses kicked perfectly by freshman Janelle Stone, but both were defended by Colorado College.
The Tigers’ Alexis Long tied up the match by knocking in a header over CSU goalkeeper Jesse McGinley in the 64th minute.
Colorado College resumed dominating control of the ball, and in the 74th minute, a Tigers’ corner kick by Rachel Herron went to Jordan Savold, who assisted Mary Bowman for a goal that put the Rams down 2-1 with only 15 minutes to play.
Colorado State didn’t take long to retaliate as Stone found Giana Bertana on a cross that Bertana headed in to tie the score 2-2 in the 78th minute.
Almost immediately following the game-tying goal, Stone and Bertana found themselves on a fast break in the 80th minute and nearly converted the same exact play. Stone sent another cross to Bertana who booted it out of the air for the go-ahead goal, but Tigers’ goalkeeper Rowan Frederiksen blocked the shot for a save.
“I thought we had that goal,” Stone said. “We did have our chances to win this game, and sometimes it just doesn’t go in our favor,” Stone finished.
Both teams attacked relentlessly in the final ten minutes. Another near-goal from CSU was followed with a counter by Colorado College that also almost ended with a goal.
As the seconds of regulation ticked away, both teams still fought for the ball in battle-like fashion, but Colorado College caught a break in a scramble right in front of Colorado State’s goal. Goalkeeper Jesse McGinley came forward in an attempt to defend, but the Tigers’ Sarah Schweiss got her forehead on it out of the air and bounced it over McGinley and into the net to put Colorado College up 3-2.
With mere seconds before time expired, the Rams put the ball in play from the corner into the 18-yard box, nearly scoring twice in a chaotic scramble in front of the Tigers’ net.
“I think every player on field was in 18 yard box so it wasn’t going to go in unless someone had a deft touch and chipped it in,” Colorado State head coach Bill Hempen said of his team’s final attempts.
Regulation ended before another goal was notched, giving the Tigers a 3-2 victory in a battle that was surely Colorado State’s most competitive and intense back-and-forth match in its two-year program history.
“Right away, they had most of the play,” Hempen said of the Tigers’ control in the first half. “Clearly the best movement team we played all year. But I think our response in the second half was good.”
“It was a good challenge for us, an NCAA Tournament team,” Hempen added. “We needed to play that kind of team as a program if we’re going to take a step forward.”
The Rams slide to 4-10-0 on the season and 2-4-0 in the Mountain West with the loss Sunday, but those four wins already double their total from last year’s inaugural campaign. Multiple-goal battles with teams like Colorado College show vast improvement of Colorado State’s young team.
The Rams’ attack has started to come together, exhibiting a relentless, no-quit attitude Sunday to come back and tie the game at 2-2 and almost 3-3 in the final seconds.
“Our attack played well,” Bertana said. “We have to move on from here and look at the positive even though we lost.”
The Rams hit the road next weekend for two more crucial conference matches with San Jose State and Fresno State on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.