Colorado State’s women’s soccer team flew over the Air Force Falcons Friday afternoon with a 1-0 win over the in-state rival for the Rams’ fourth win on the season and second in the conference.
An early Gianna Bertana goal set up by a beautiful cross from the left side by Janelle Stone in the 13th minute was the sole score of the game, carrying the Rams through the rest of the match for the victory.
Setting up the play, Stone stormed down the left sideline to beat Air Force defenders to the corner, where she launched a pass into the middle that Bertana slid into and struck high over Air Force goalkeeper Alex Kahalley, giving the Rams their first lead in the first half of a match this season.
“The goal was a great goal,” CSU head coach Bill Hempen said. “It was a great run from Janelle on the left side. She has an unbelievable left leg. It was great service and Gianna got on the end of it. We’ve had those chances a lot and we finally struck one.”
Bertana’s goal was her third on the season and in her career as a Ram, making her the new all-time leader in goals for CSU’s two-year-old program. Stone notched her second assist on the season with the set-up.
The goal off the cross marked progress for CSU’s attack, which has struggled to produce many goals this season. Hempen has been awaiting a goal off a fundamental cross.
“We’ve been practicing that exact play, scoring from crosses in front of the goal,” Stone said.
The match with Air Force was the Rams’ third and final match in the Colorado Cup series, a contest between Colorado’s six Division I women’s programs. Finishing with a 2-1 record with wins over Air Force and Northern Colorado and a loss to CU, the Rams leap up to tied for second in the Cup standings with Colorado College.
CU leads the Cup with a 3-0 record, and looks to be the likely 2014 season champion. Colorado College plays its last Cup match October 31 against Air Force. The Tigers need to score one more goal in the Cup to knock to CSU down to third in the standings. If the Tigers are shut out by the Falcons, though, CSU will will be the sole second place winner of the Colorado Cup.
“We set it up so these kids have pride in this event,” Hempen said of the Colorado Cup. “We kind of won something out of the whole thing, and if it’s just respect, we’ll take it.”
The Falcons couldn’t capture their Colorado Cup win over the Rams, despite aggressively pushing players forward to try and tie the score in the second half. In the 70th minute, Air Force junior Ally Swift created a breakaway opportunity, but her shot went inches wide of the post. Later in the 88th minute, a pile of players scrambled to control the ball right in front CSU’s net, but the Rams cleared it and handled the proceeding corner kick.
“I have a great deal of respect for them for what they’ve chosen,” Hempen said of Air Force’s players. “Part of that choice is to never give in. You could see today they never give in. We had to match that intensity today and our players did a good job of that.”
“At the end of the day, we did enough, and I’m happy,” Hempen continued.
“We really, really needed the win,” Stone added.
With the victory, Colorado State improves to 4-9-0 on the season and 2-3 in the Mountain West. The Falcons slide to 5-6-1 on the year and 2-2-1 in the conference.
The Rams are back at home on the Lagoon Field 1 p.m. Sunday for a match with the Colorado College Tigers, in-state rivals who are new to the Mountain West this season and have started out with a 2-2-1 conference record.
Free barbecue will be offered to the first 100 fans in attendance at Sunday’s match with the Tigers for the “Kickoff to Homecoming Week” for Colorado State.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.