Despite a first half goal from Taylor Nelson, the CSU Rams women’s soccer team could not finish off the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday as the match ended in a 1-1 tie.
The stats favored the Rams (2-5-1) throughout the day, outshooting the Mavericks (2-5-2) by a total of 15-10, including a seven shot advantage in regulation.
UNO was unable to capitalize on five overtime shots, thanks in large part to goalkeeper Paige Brandt, who earned her first start of the season and played all 110 minutes of the match.
“Paige played great,” coach Bill Hempen said. “She made all the saves that she was supposed to make and stole probably one which keeps us in the game, keeps it 1-0.”
The Rams gained the lead in the 26th minute of the first half.
Just minutes after checking into the game, Rams forward Hannah Gerdin made her presence felt. Coming up the left sideline, Gerdin gathered and passed the ball through the box to an attacking Taylor Nelson who finished the play to give the Rams an early advantage.
“Our goal was to keep them in their half as much as possible and put as much pressure on them as we could,” Nelson said. “The opportunity presented itself when finally, we broke through that back line and I just happened to be there.”
That pressure was felt often by the Mavericks defense in the first half as CSU outshot their opponent 7-1 through 45 minutes. Momentum began to change midway through the second half when UNO mounted back-to-back attacks against the Rams. Then, with just under 20 minutes to play in regulation, Brandt maintained the Rams’ lead with a huge save in the box.
In the 82nd minute, UNO’s Izzy Anders capitalized on an aggressive Rams’ defense that was looking to seal the deal as she fired a shot passed Brandt to tie the game at 1-1.
“When you have possession like that, you get a little more anxious,” Hempen said. “So you start sending a few more people forward and next thing you know you’ve got a counter attack. Could Paige have done anything about it? Probably not. You know, that’s not one that’s gonna make Sports Center, but it counts.”
Both teams had opportunities in overtime, but clutch saves from Brandt and UNO goalkeeper Haley Shelton kept the score knotted for the remainder of the game.
Sunday’s tie marks the end of non-conference play for the Rams as they turn their attention to their Mountain West Conference opponents. Leadership from seniors, including midfielder Kasey Dietrich who has been with the Rams since their establishment in 2013, will be monumental in the team’s success for the remainder of the season.
“I know where we’ve been,” Dietrich said. “We’ve kept building every year but we seem to have a breakdown every year, slowly drifting off. I think us as seniors need to take it upon ourselves to keep on building and find our problems and fix them.”
Coming off a winless 2015 in conference play, Hempen is aware of the large task that awaits them.
“We’re not over a hump, we’re trying to get over a mountain,” Hempen said. “It’s a big thing in front of us. We’ll go and give our best out there in Utah and Idaho and see if we can’t steal a game or two.”
The Rams begin conference play with two road games against Utah State and Boise State before returning home on Sept. 30 to take on Nevada.
Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_