Rams soccer looks to regroup over weekend

After two disappointing losses this past weekend, the CSU women’s soccer team will look to get back on track in conference play this weekend. The good news for the Rams (1-6-2, 0-2-0 Mountain West) is that they have another opportunity to get their first Division I win in front of their home crowd. The bad news, however, is that those opportunities will come against arguably the two best teams in the conference.

Coming off of a 2-1 overtime loss to Air Force and a 3-0 loss to Wyoming this past weekend, the Rams will be looking for more consistent play leading to a better result.

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“We just need to be more consistent, especially with playing more physical and winning the 50-50 balls, you have to do that against good teams,” said sophomore captain Megan Speed.

Head coach Bill Hempen was impressed with the way his team fought back against the physical play it saw against Air Force and Wyoming. However, the biggest challenge this year for CSU has been finding the back of the net, something Hempen believes can be improved with more players joining the attacking runs the Rams get.

“When Catherine (Ruder) goes forward in the attack, it causes all kinds of problems for the defense, but we’re asking her to run 70 yards from playing defense to score a goal; that’s not going to happen very often,” Hempen said.

Due to the lack of depth on this year’s team, many players have to conserve their energy during the match to be able to play the full 90 minutes. Multiple Rams have played in every minute of action so far this year, including captains Speed and Jami Vaughn.

In the midst of a building season, the leadership of Vaughn and Speed has been crucial to keeping the Rams confidence levels up in a season without many statistical positives.

“We’re really just staying positive. Even when you’re making a critical comment, you still have to stay positive with them and help them to get better,” said Vaughn, a junior transfer from Kansas.

The Rams will need the leadership of older players as well as younger players to step up in what may be their toughest weekend of the year.

“I’m counting on Jami, Megan, and Amy Eckert, who has really stepped up for us to raise their games and raise up the players around them,” said Hempen.

The Rams travel to San Diego State on Friday to play an Aztecs team coming off of two wins last weekend against Fresno State and San Jose State. San Diego State (4-5-2, 2-0-0 MW) are led my All-Mountain West forward Hannah Keane who leads the conference with seven goals this season.

CSU will then return Sunday afternoon to take on New Mexico at home.  The Lobos (4-7-1, 2-0-0 MW) are also coming off of a pair of wins against Fresno State and San Jose State. New Mexico is paced by goalkeeper Cassie Ulrich who has given up only 11 goals in 12 matches so far this year.

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Keegan Pope has been writing for the Collegian since August 2013. He can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.

Breakout:  Mountain West Standings:

1. San Diego State (4-5-2, 2-0-0)
2. New Mexico (4-7-1, 2-0-0)
3. Wyoming (4-6-1, 1-0-0)
4. Air Force (2-6-1, 1-0-0)
5. UNLV (6-4-2, 1-1-0)
6. Boise State (6-4-2, 1-1-0)
7. Utah State (5-4-2, 1-1-0)
8. Nevada (3-5-3, 1-1-0)
9. Fresno State (3-7-1, 0-2-0)
10. Colorado State (1-6-2, 0-2-0)
11. San José State (1-9-0, 0-2-0)