Rams make history with home win in opener against UNC

The CSU women’s soccer team thrilled the home crowd Thursday afternoon with a late game-winning goal netted by forward Gianna Bertana to capture the program’s first home win against in-state rival Northern Colorado.

The Rams dominated possession throughout the entire game with outstanding midfield play, but were not able to capitalize until late in the second half. With only three minutes left on the clock, Janelle Stone lobbed a beautiful pass down field to fellow forward Gianna Bertana, who was able to shake off the sole Bear defender on her side and float the ball past the UNC keeper when she came out for a 1-0 victory. Colorado State was able to hold on for the final seconds to seize a win in the season home opener, and the first home win in CSU soccer history.

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“There are so many good things about it, but to score with that little time left, that is pretty cool. I’m really proud of our girls,” said head coach Bill Hempen.

Hempen has been emphasizing the need for a stronger, more dangerous attack in practice, and it showed on Thursday. The Rams came out with energy right away in the first half, controlling the ball from the midfield to create several scoring opportunities, all of which came up scoreless until Bertana’s goal.

“I was trying to cut off the defender, get on the other side of the goalie and just shoot it. I saw the goalie coming, so I just thought to shoot for the corner and it worked out,” said Bertana of her game winner.

The Rams came out on the opposite end last weekend in their 2-0 loss to CU, who controlled the ball against a solid CSU defense.

CSU clearly gained from that loss as the Rams persisted in being aggressive and wearing down the UNC defense Thursday.

“In the last couple minutes, we just kept hustling, going for the goal, and it worked,” Bertana said.

Hempen also mixed up his lineup several times through the course of the game, giving non-starters such as Taylor Hodgson and Kasey Dietrich some minutes, which allowed veteran defenders such as Megan Speed and Catherine Ruder to rest for brief periods.

“We got a lot more out of this than the victory, ” Hempen said. “We gave some other kids opportunities today than we did last week. Giving Taylor Hodgson some run in the back, breaking up the back four, then giving Kasey Dietrich a run helped with the depth, which I hope will pay off down the road, especially the weeks we play Friday and Sunday.”

Winning the home opener will hopefully inspire the Rams as they get this season started. With a win in the second game of the season, Colorado State has half the number of wins from last year’s 2-13-3 record.

“It’s a great feeling. Really exciting. I’m excited for the season and I feel like we’re going to be pretty good,” Bertana said.

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The win against Northern Colorado will count toward the Colorado Cup competition between the six Division I programs in the state. The Rams’ next match is with Portland State at home next Friday at noon, followed by Iowa on Sunday at 1:30. UNC will try to rebound Sunday against North Dakota State in Greeley.

Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.