Losses to New Mexico and San Diego State last weekend eliminated the Colorado State women’s soccer team from postseason contention. However, it doesn’t mean the Rams will be taking their foot off the gas for the season finale against Wyoming on Friday.
“I’m just as much of a demanding coach today as I was on Aug. 2,” CSU head coach Bill Hempen said. “We’re going to put the best 11 on the field and we’re going to approach it like we’re in the final of the conference championship.”
While preparing for big games begins with hard work on the practice field, it can be a challenge to get up for practice while knowing that the season concludes Friday, regardless of the game’s result.
“I think you can judge where you are as a program by how this particular week of practice is,” Hempen said. “It can either be, ‘Let’s just get through this,’ or, ‘Let’s try and be as good as we can be until the end.’”
Throughout his career, Hempen has encountered both contrasting attitudes in the final week of practice and he sees this CSU squad as a group that wants to work hard and continue to improve until the very last day.
“They want to be better than they’ve been all year long,” Hempen said. “Even how we ended practice here today, there was excellent ball movement and that’s something we’re trying to get better and better at.”
Hempen and the Rams have one more practice before welcoming their northern rival. CSU is 0-4 all time against Wyoming, but the Rams may be catching the Cowgirls at the right time for their first result. Wyoming opened the Mountain West season with three wins, a draw and a loss in double overtime, but have dropped their last five matches since.
Throughout the season, Hempen has stressed how competitive every conference matchup is and that won’t change versus Wyoming, regardless of their form.
“Every team in this conference gives us a set of challenges and Wyoming is no different,” Hempen said.
Last weekend, New Mexico’s Claire Lynch and SDSU’s Mia Root each scored a pair of goals in their respective wins over CSU. On paper, Wyoming doesn’t appear to have a player quite to their caliber, so slowing down the Cowgirls’ entire offense as a whole will likely be the emphasis on Friday.
“They’re a pretty direct group of players,” Hempen said. “They work hard, they run hard, they defend as a team and they attack as team.”
The Rams made program history earlier this season by earning results against Colorado College, Utah State and Boise State. If CSU can neutralize the Wyoming attack, the Rams can add Wyoming to that shortlist of conference opponents they collect points against.
“Any result, whether it’s a tie or a win, is going to be positive,” Hempen said. “The challenge of being where we are is breaking through in those moments. We got through a few of them earlier this year and we certainly want to end with one.”
If CSU can break through with a win on Friday, it will leave the Rams with a positive feeling heading into the long offseason.
“The weekend when we won on Sunday made the week ahead a lot of fun,” Hempen said. “So winning this weekend can create a long stretch of happy.”
Hempen and the Rams will look to get in the win column for the first time versus Wyoming on Friday at 1 p.m. at the CSU Soccer Field.
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.