CSU women’s soccer was unable to build upon a strong first half of play against the Wyoming Cowgirls, losing 1-0 in their final game of the season.
Having already secured their spot in the Mountain West tournament, the Cowgirls (10-7-2, 6-4-1 MW) played defensively for most of the match, trying to escape the game without any major injuries. The third consecutive one-goal loss for the Rams (3-14-2, 1-9-1 MW) puts them in last place in the MW for the second consecutive year.
A first half that was even in terms of shots, shots on goal and corner kicks gave hope to a Rams team desperately wanting to earn their first points against their northern rival in school history. In the 13th minute, it looked like the Rams would get the early advantage on a Maddi Rodriguez corner kick. Lexi Swenson received the corner, but sent her header just left of the open goal.
The second half was not the same for the Rams as Wyoming took control of ball possession, leading to a 9-3 advantage in shots. After earning a free kick in the 65th minute, Wyoming sent the ball deep into the zone where Katie Marcheso crossed it to a sliding Annie Hinman for the game winner.
Paige Brandt played nearly 80 minutes of solid goalkeeping before being replaced by Natalie Dierickx for the remainder of the game, a seemingly offensive move given Dierickx’s ability to punt the ball into the offensive zone.
Although this allowed the Rams to finish aggressively, Wyoming’s post-goal defensive mindset allowed them to have enough defensive help to maintain the shutout. The win solidifies Wyoming the number five seed in postseason play.
For the third game in a row, CSU was unable to find the goal that would erase their one-goal deficit on the scoreboard, following an all too familiar trend for the season: close, but no cigar.
Every Rams player fought for the entire 90 minutes, a testament to the preparation of coach Bill Hempen and the commitment of his players. Even when they were down on the scoreboard, Rams players showed more heart than the Cowgirls, beating their opponent to the ball.
“We played hard,” Hempen said. “We beat them to the ball, and could not create the chance to stick. We play good soccer and just can’t find the goal. I am really proud of them because they fought.”
The season as whole saw the Rams improve from last year’s zero conference points and overall winning percentage of .200. In order to improve further in the coming years and make their first conference tournament appearance, the Rams will have to find a way to turn more of these one-goal games into victories, especially in conference play.
Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_