Three years ago the inaugural Colorado State women’s soccer team took to the pitch. Since their inception, the Rams hold a 9-43-5 overall record and have tallied just three wins in Mountain West play. A winless conference record in 2015 not helping the cause.
Entering the 2016 season, CSU (1-1-0) is off to a respectable start as they kicked off the season with a couple of Colorado Cup matches, knocking off DU 2-0 and falling to CU 2-1.
“We have another group of fighters [this year], that’s kind of been our M.O. since we started the program, but we’re putting up a better fight,” head coach Bill Hempen said. “We’re farther along as a group than we’ve been, and being able to compete at a higher level.”
Competing at a higher level was on the cusp last year, as the team finished with five losses by two or more goals, as opposed to 19 losses by two or more goals in the program’s first two years of operation. While the team wants to finish the climb and compete against more established programs regularly, Hempen said they try not to put too many expectations on the season.
“In some ways everyone is supposed to have goals, and then the goals turn into expectations, and then the kids start freaking out and I hate doing that to them,” Hempen said. “They know in their hearts that one of our goals is make the conference tournament, and we haven’t shown any signs of life in the conference.”
While the teams ultimate goal may be to make the Mountain West conference tournament at the end of the season, the non-conference schedule is where the it all begins.
“The challenge [this coming] weekend and the challenge coming up in our non-conference schedule should certainly prepare us for our Mountain West conference play,” Hempen said. “These non-conference games are a big deal to us to how successful we are gonna be these events is kind of a pre-cursor to what we can expect in the Mountain West conference.”
With only two games under their belt thus far in the 2016 season, Hempen wants to reserve judgement until a later point in the season, once the team has played against some more competition in non-conference play. With games coming scheduled against power-5 conference opponents in Iowa on Sept. 2, and Northwestern on Sept. 4, competition is on the way.
Because the program is still in such a young state, it should come to no surprise that the team is still trying to compete on a consistent basis. But promising young players should have the Rams on the rise. Sophomore Hannah Gerdin leads the young group of players as she sits three points away from tying the program scoring record of 15 points held by former player Gianna Bertana.
“The discrepancy between our most experienced players and our least experienced players gap is much smaller than its ever been before,” Hempen said. “That has made for great competition. The players not only competing for opportunities in games but also positions on the field in the starting 11.”
Colorado State’s next shot at proving themselves comes against Northern Colorado on Aug. 26, at 4 p.m. in Fort Collins, and on Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. against SIU Edwardsville.
Collegian Sports Editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Chaddeutschman