Disappointing season shows glimmers of hope for CSU soccer

Colton Strickler

The Colorado State women’s soccer team is still trying to turn the corner.

The Rams (3-14-2, 1-9-1 MW) wrapped up their fourth season in existence on Friday with a 1-0 loss to the Wyoming Cowgirls, closing out the season with three consecutive one-goal losses.

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Colorado State came flying out of the gate in 2016 with a 2-0 win over the University of Denver.

“There is a different feeling around this group, they feel like they belong,” head coach Bill Hempen said following the win over DU on Aug. 20.

The Rams followed up their season opening win with back-to-back one-goal losses to the University of Colorado and the University of Northern Colorado

After defeating SIU-Edwardsville 2-1 to move them to 2-2 at the end of August, the Rams were still in a good place halfway through non-conference play.

The Rams began to slip after their win over SIU-Edwardsville. They dropped their next three matches by a combined score of 9-1 before closing out their non-conference schedule with a 1-1 tie.

The Rams kicked off Mountain West play with a 3-1 loss at Utah State and a 2-1 overtime loss to Boise State on the road when the Broncos were able to tie the game in the 84th minute.

Prior to their match against Nevada, Hempen named junior Paige Brandt the starting goalkeeper after both freshman Sydney Hall and redshirt freshman Natalie Dierickx started multiple games in the weeks prior.

The Rams would defeat Nevada 1-0 in Brandt’s first game as the full-time starter on sophomore forward Hannah Gerdin’s double-overtime goal to give the Rams their first Mountain West victory in over a year.

The win over Nevada would mark the last win of the season for the Rams, who would salvage only one point in their last seven games coming from a 1-1 tie against Air Force.

CSU ultimately fell short of their goal of making their first Mountain West tournament, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.

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Including their two ties, the Rams had 10 games decided by one goal or less. Young players were forced into starting roles during the final month of the season as injuries dismantled the Rams. Although they weren’t able to salvage any more wins, Hempen commended his team’s effort when faced with tough circumstances.

“Even though the results were the same, the on field presence remained the same with our team,” Hempen said. “We remained engaged, we remained competitive even if it wasn’t our so-to-speak starters.”

Goals were hard to come by for the Rams in 2016. The only multiple goal games came in their wins against DU and SIU-Edwardsviille and CSU never scored more than two goals. To get to where they want to go, Hempen knows that the goals need to start coming in bunches.

“I’m still waiting for the game where we have that blowout,” Hempen said.

When Hempen looks at his team, he reflects back to his favorite coach Pat McBride.

Hempen said that McBride, who coached the St. Louis Steamers of the Major Indoor Soccer League, had a Steamers team that resembled the Rams in the sense that they couldn’t find the back of the net.

“The Steamers were just like us,” Hempen said. “They just couldn’t score that goal that they needed to and in the last game of the year they beat the league leading team like 13 to 5.”

The Rams are still looking for that one big win. Once that comes, Hempen knows it will do wonders for his team.

“We need that moment of, with 15 minutes left in the game, we’re winning and we’re aint losing kind of a game. We need that moment.” Hempen said. “The wins we’ve had have been just as gut wrenching from a winning standpoint as they are on the losing side of it. There has been no comfort when it comes to winning for us, it’s relief. We get that opportunity to win comfortably I think that will help us.”

Unfortunately for the Rams, that chance will have to come next fall.

Collegian assistant sports editor Colton Strickler can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @coltonstrickler