After opening conference play with a pair of draws, the Colorado State women’s soccer team is one of only four teams without a Mountain West loss. Atop that list of undefeated teams is the Rams’ next opponent, San Jose State.
The Spartans, last year’s regular season Mountain West runner-up, opened the 2017 season with losses in four of their first five games. However, since their Sept. 3 shutout loss to Georgetown, the Spartans have won four consecutive games and lead the Mountain West with six points.
At the forefront of SJSU’s resurgence is senior forward Dorthe Hoppius. Through nine games, the Dorston, Germany native tops all Spartans with three goals and 13 shots on goal. Over the past weekend, Hoppius netted a goal, an assist and racked up 15 shots to earn Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
“They got this German kid that was a pain in the butt for us a year ago,” CSU coach Bill Hempen said. “She’s not slowing down at all, so we have to kind of find her.”
The Rams faced a similar challenge in their season opening game against Colorado when they were tasked to defend prolific goal scorer Taylor Kornieck. CSU kept the preseason All-American off the board and limited her to only two shots on goal. Hempen plans on employing a similar strategy against Hoppius on Friday.
“Kornieck didn’t really have a position on the field and I think this young lady (Hoppius) does the same thing for San Jose,” Hempen said. “She’s not afraid to shoot from distance and I think one of the keys is making sure we’re aware of her all the time and see if we can control the midfield a little bit.”
Although Hoppius and the Spartans are on a four-game winning streak, all four of those matches were played on their home turf. Friday’s matchup takes place at the Colorado State Soccer Field and that may give the Rams the edge they need against a team they have traditionally struggled against.
“I hope (altitude) is a factor,” Hempen said. “San Jose is going to be a really tough challenge for us, but playing at home gives us maybe a little bit more of an advantage. No results against them in previous years, so anything at this point will be good for us.”
Following their match versus SJSU, the Rams welcome Fresno State to the CSU soccer field. Fresno State dropped their first two Mountain West games last weekend to Boise State and Utah State.
The Bulldogs are struggling to break out of the gates in conference play, but the Rams are not overlooking how important Sunday’s game is.
“You want to take advantage of every opportunity because in the conference you can either get six away and five at home, or six at home and five away,” Hempen said. “This is the year that we have five at home so we need to take advantage of every home opportunity we get.”
The Rams will look to take advantage of their home field beginning Friday at 4 p.m. versus San Jose State. CSU wraps up the weekend on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Fresno State.
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.