Deciding games in overtime has been the Colorado Sate women’s soccer team’s modus operandi through the first 14 games, and that trend continued in Friday evening’s 2-2 draw with Boise State at the CSU Soccer Field.
On Tuesday, CSU coach Bill Hempen acknowledged that every opponent the Rams have faced this season has featured at least one special player that’s been hard to deal with. Boise State’s Raimee Sherle needed less than six minutes on Friday to nominate herself as that one special player for the Broncos.
On a play that began as a free kick, BSU’s Baylee Baser raced down the sideline nearest the CSU bench, dribbling past several CSU defenders on the way. From a few yards beyond the goal line, Baser found Sherle in a crowded penalty area and the Mountain West’s leading goal scorer buried her eighth goal of the season.
“The goal rattled between three players and dropped right to their feet,” Hempen said. “For us to respond the way we did was pure effort.”
The response Hempen is referring to occurred in the 10th minute when freshman Taylor Steinke played the ball into the BSU zone looking for forward Kaija Ornes. Steinke’s pass was intercepted by the Broncos, but Ornes didn’t give up on the play and picked the ball from the defender as she fell to the penalty area turf.
“Knowing that she wasn’t comfortable on her feet, I just kept pressuring her as hard as I can and I hoped to get the ball,” Ornes said.
Once she found the ball, Ornes didn’t waste a moment and delivered a shot under the Bronco keeper’s shoulder for the equalizer.
“Recently I told Kaija, ‘The next time you’re in, just score it, don’t try and dribble around the goalie, just score it,’” Hempen said. “I think she heard me on her shoulder when she was in alone. Great finish.”
Scoring a goal or less in their last six games, the Rams made attacking and finishing tallies a point of emphasis in practice this week. That work must have paid off as Emma Shinsky came inches away from netting a long-range strike minutes after the equalizer, if not for the post. The iron at the CSU Soccer Field came back to haunt Shinsky in the 110th minute, as the freshman skimmed one off the crossbar before time expired.
The Rams wouldn’t allow the posts to make a difference in the 24th minute, though, when BSU conceded a corner kick to defender Beth Plentl. Plentl telegraphed the set piece to the head of Steinke who sent it to the top-left netting for her second goal of the season.
The Broncos carried the momentum to halftime, but the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Rams.
Although the Rams held Sherle to just a shot in the first half, the sophomore dribbled her way past the CSU defense and tallied an unassisted goal from the top of the penalty area on her second shot of the game.
“26 (Sherle) for them is just outstanding,” Hempen said. “She gets the equalizer, but I think Bailyn (Furrow) and Halley (Havlicek) did a really good job defending that kid specifically because she’s special.”
Rams’ defenders kept Sherle off the board for the remainder of the game, but the 2016 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year racked up six shots on goal and a total of nine shots before the final whistle.
For the eighth time in 15 games, the Rams needed overtime to find a result. Overtime featured three yellow cards and an array of free kicks, but the best opportunity came off the diving foot of Sherle. Peifer made eight saves on the evening, but her denial of Sherle from about three yards out was perhaps the keeper’s best.
The draw marks CSU’s first result against BSU, a step in the development of the young soccer program.
“They’ve known it’s going to be a battle and I told them after the game that we just made a step tonight and we’ll hopefully take another one on Sunday,” Hempen said.
The Rams will look to earn their first result versus Utah State when the two teams face off Sunday 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.