Behind the Mountain West Conference’s leader in total points, Lily Sender, the UNLV Rebels defeated the CSU Rams 2-0 Sunday afternoon.
Another game that saw the Rams (3-8-1, 1-3-0 MW) outshoot their opponent, this time 17-12, resulted in a loss to the Rebels (10-3-0, 3-1-0 MW). The two teams are on opposite ends of the conference standings as CSU falls to last place, losing to the first place Rebels.
Following their double-overtime victory on Friday, the Rams came out confident, leading to opportunities throughout the first half. A counter attack from CSU in the first 20 minutes of action resulted in possibly their best chance all game. Kaija Ornes shot a laser from just outside the box that UNLV goalkeeper Jordan Sallee punched out to Janelle Stone, who fired another one on goal to no avail. The strong start drew notice from senior Amy Eckert.
“I thought we came out actually pretty strong,” Eckert said. “We had a few on goal, which is pretty good.”
Current MW points leader Lily Sender broke the tie in the 22nd minute after she gathered a pass from teammate Susie Bernal, cut across the box and finished with her left foot in the upper right-hand corner, just out of the reach for Paige Brandt. The goal took its toll on the entire Rams team.
“They got the first goal which kind of hurt our confidence I feel like,” Eckert said.
After sticking around in the first half, the Rams could not find the same momentum in the second. CSU was hurt by turnovers in crucial parts of the field that halted many promising scoring chances. Even in the defensive zone, Rams players were unable to put the ball where it needed to be, leading to constant pressure from UNLV.
“We kept turning the ball over,” head coach Bill Hempen said. “Unbelievable, just looking right at them and passing the ball right to them. It couldn’t stop, no matter who I put out there, it never stopped …The first half, I thought we were doing fine. And the second half just went right in the tank for us.”
It was one of those turnovers that led to UNLV’s second, game-clinching goal in the 58th minute. Sender played a pass off her chest to Jordan Magnin who sent a through ball to Dakota Blazak in the Rams zone. Blazak barely stayed onside before shooting it passed Brandt for the goal.
Eckert and Hempen both know what it will take to get back on track.
“I think we just need to work on playing together as a team,” Eckert said. “Even if we get scored on, we can’t put our heads down because that’s what is gonna hurt us in the end. I know we can do this, that’s what’s so frustrating. We have the talent, it’s just putting it together at this point.”
“It’s back to what we do,” Hempen said. “Training on Tuesday and try to fix as many things as you possibly can and go at it again next weekend.”
CSU continues their four-game home stand on Friday Oct. 7, as they take on Colorado College at 3 p.m.
Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_