The Colorado State women’s soccer team netted five goals in the final 45 minutes of Sunday’s game against North Dakota State to defeat the Bison 5-1 at the CSU Soccer Field.
For the second time in September, the Rams exploded for five goals in a game, tying a program record for most goals in a single match. In a 5-1 win against New Mexico State on Sept. 1, freshman Ally Murphy-Pauletto led the team with three goals. In Sunday’s game, it was her roommate Karli Eheart who steered the Rams’ offense with a pair of tallies.
Although the 5-1 final score indicates a dominating performance by CSU, it was the Rams who were chasing the Bison through much of the first half.
In the 13th minute, NDSU midfielder Malana Vichon took the ball in behind a CSU defender in the corner of the CSU defensive zone and sent a crossing pass across the bottom of the penalty area to midfielder Malley O’Brien for an easy tap-in goal. O’Brien’s goal was the first of the season for NDSU and an indicator that the Rams were not playing up to speed early in the contest.
“We’re a program that has to play like it’s the last game we’re ever going to get a chance to put a uniform on, or else we’re never going to succeed,” coach Bill Hempen said. “I’m glad they responded because that team was fighting. They hadn’t won a game and they hadn’t scored a goal until today and they were playing with more grit than we were.”
The Rams took a 1-0 deficit into the break, but came out of halftime looking like a completely different team than the one that only mustered two shots in the first half.
“In the first half I felt like we were tired and weren’t really in it,” Eheart said. “In the second half we kind of realized that this isn’t how good we can be and we got back into it and played like we know how to.”
In the 48th minute, CSU’s first scoring opportunity came on a free kick from Makenzi Taylor. The NDSU goaltender gloved Taylor’s shot, but when the junior defender got another free kick opportunity in the 53rd minute, she connected with sophomore Caeley Lordemann, who drilled the ball into the back of the net for her first goal of the season.
No more than two minutes later, Murphy-Pauletto took advantage of NDSU’s inability to clear the defensive zone and set up Eheart for her first goal of the season and the first of her collegiate career.
“(My first goal) was really exciting.” Eheart said. “I didn’t really realize it at first, but then everyone started freaking out and I was like ‘Oh my God!’ It was a really surreal moment.”
With the score 2-1 in the 58th minute, senior Maddi Rodriguez sent a pass to Eheart who was able to get a shot past the challenging NDSU goalkeeper and bring the CSU lead to 3-1.
NDSU only conceded two corner kicks the entire match, but on the Rams’ second opportunity in the 62nd minute, Lexi Swanson took Taylor’s cross and headed it into the back of the net for the Rams’ fourth goal in just under ten minutes.
Up three goals, the Rams kept pressuring the NDSU defensive zone until Madisann Relph assisted freshman Kallie Clements on her first collegiate goal in the 85th minute.
The Rams’ consistent ability to maintain possession and put pressure on the NDSU defense is why Eheart believes CSU turned the game around in the second half.
“We turned into more possession, so we were just trying to keep the ball and (create) opportunities came from that,” Eheart said. “Rather than trying to force it and run everywhere, we let the ball do the work and that build up just opened up the plays for easy finishes.”
Eheart and the Rams do not play again until next Sunday, but Hempen and his team will ride the momentum from their convincing win to prepare for their final non-conference match of the year, a road game at Kansas State.
“Any coach will tell you that it’s a lot better to enter that week off with a win than a loss,” Hempen said “We’ll be back at practice Tuesday morning and we’ll be challenging them (players) as we prepare for that last non-conference game, but we’ll ride this (win).”
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.