After back-to-back weekends in which the Colorado State women’s soccer team went 1-1, the Rams will head to the Midwest this weekend to begin the second half of their non-conference schedule.
The Rams (2-2-0) bounced back on Sunday with a 2-1 over SIU-Edwardsville following a 1-0 loss to UNC on Friday.
Despite going down 1-0 early in Sunday’s match, the Rams answered with a goal of their own just two minutes after falling behind and netted another one late in the second half to win the game.
If there’s one thing that the Rams aren’t short of it is effort, and head coach Bill Hempen knows that that’s what his team brings to the table.
“I think one of the things that’s been consistent with our program since we started has been the effort of our kids,” Hempen said. “To come back and get the result for the effort, it was a good step for us.”
The Rams will look to build off of their latest win when they head to Iowa for a Friday matchup with the Hawkeyes.
This will be the second time the Rams and the Hawkeyes have met, with Iowa winning the 2014 matchup 4-0.
“We’re excited to challenge ourselves against a Big Ten school,” Hempen said.
Colorado State will then head to Illinois to take on No. 25 Northwestern (3-0-0) for a Sunday afternoon match. Like Iowa, this will also be the second time that the Rams and the Wildcats will face off. Their 2015 matchup resulted in a 2-1 loss for the Rams despite taking a 1-0 lead with 30 minutes to play.
Northwestern will be the first nationally ranked opponent that the Rams have faced this season, but according to Hempen that hasn’t changed the way they’ve approached this game in comparison to any other game.
“I don’t know that our kids would know what that even meant,” he said. “We’ve gone pretty much to-to-toe with everyone so this should be no different. With the way the game is, if it bounces our way that’d be great and it very well could.”
As far as the strategy goes, the Rams will look to continue to improve on making the most of their opportunities when they present themselves.
“We’re getting better and better at getting into the offensive third of the field,” Hempen said. “It’s that finishing moment that has to get better.”
All three goalkeepers on the Rams roster have seen time this season, but following two solid performances against UNC and SIU-Edwardsville, it looks like it’s freshman Natalie Dierickx’s job to lose.
While the primary responsibility of a goalkeeper is to keep the ball out of the net, it’s Dierickx’s ability to help out the offense that’s catching Hempen’s eye.
“If you’ve watched the three goalkeepers play there is something distinctly different about her and it’s her ability to deliver a pretty good advantage when we get the ball in the offensive third as quickly as possible,” Hempen said. “She can hit a ball as well as anybody I’ve had as a goal keeper before so we’re going to use that to our advantage.”
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Colton Strickler can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @coltonstrickler