Following a bye week, the Colorado State women’s soccer team is back in action this weekend with a pair of games against two unfamiliar opponents in New Mexico State and New Hampshire.
The Rams (0-2-1) opened the 2017 season with three games decided by one goal or less against three in-state rivals. After their most recent game versus Northern Colorado, the Rams took advantage of an eight-day break to rest and prepare for the next slate of opponents.
“These first three games were a battle,” head coach Bill Hempen said following last week’s game against UNC. “You don’t get too many eight days off, so you reflect, you heal, you scrape this one off and the next game awaits.”
Beyond preparing for the games ahead, Hempen said the break also allowed him and his staff to keep players focused and push the team’s core values.
“We’ve had a pretty good week of training,” Hempen said. “We’ve set out to build our core values and we’ve set out to maintain our process goals to get to our destination goals. We’ve been doing everything as a staff to be as focused on that and not about game results in true belief that if we focus on that, other things will follow.”
In the first game following the break, the Rams face New Mexico State on Friday at 1 p.m. NMSU is off to a strong start to the 2017 season, racking up 12 goals and only allowing one through five games. The Aggies are not short on confidence following an 8-0 victory over Alcorn State in their last game. Friday’s game will be the first time the two programs have ever faced off, but Hempen is aware of NMSU’s abilities.
“We’re not at all familiar with them, but I know New Mexico State recently got a big win over their in-state rival, New Mexico, a program that we’ve never beaten,” Hempen said.
On Sunday afternoon, CSU will turn its attention to New Hampshire (3-1-0). UNH is led by America East Player of the Week Brooke Murphy. The senior forward has already recorded 7 points and 20 shots on the season. Like New Mexico State, CSU hasn’t faced New Hampshire in program history. Despite the unfamiliarity, Hempen thinks playing against new opponents can be a good thing for his team.
“It’s good that we don’t know anything about them,” Hempen said. “ We don’t have a history, so maybe we can create some histories.”
Along with making history, playing against new teams will also allow the Rams to focus on themselves, rather than getting caught up in what the opponent will do.
“If you can give the team a few things to remember about the opponent, that’s about all you can ask,” Hempen said. “We one hundred percent have to take care of our own game, as opposed to what our opponent is going to do.”
Friday’s game will be the first time the Rams have played at home since they faced Colorado in the season opening match. The Rams are excited to be back at the CSU Soccer Field, a place they proudly call home.
“I think it’s awesome to be able to call this our home,” Rams’ forward Kaija Ornes said after the game against Colorado. “We are here to stay. We are not just any team, we are here, we’ve arrived and we are ready to go.”
Hempen described the first three games of the season against in-state opponents as battles. Even though the Rams are hosting teams from out of town this weekend, one can expect these games to be just as intense.
“When I’m recruiting I tell all the freshmen to pick your biggest rival and play them 20 times in two months,” Hempen said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s New Hampshire, New Mexico State, CU or DU. It doesn’t matter. They’re all battles.”
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.