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Rams soccer advances to 1st-ever MW championship after PKs

Olivia+Fout+%2818%29+dribbles+the+ball+past+a+San+Diego+State+University+defender+in+the+Mountain+West+tournament+semi-finals+Nov.+1.+The+game+ended+in+a+0-0+%283-2%29+PK+win+for+Colorado+State+University.+
Collegian | Damon Cook
Olivia Fout (18) dribbles the ball past a San Diego State University defender in the Mountain West tournament semi-finals Nov. 1. The game ended in a 0-0 (3-2) PK win for Colorado State University.

Maybe some things are just meant to be. 

“Mr. Brightside” came on just before Colorado State struck gold in Laramie, Wyoming, winning 0-0 (3-2 penalty kicks) against No. 1 ranked San Diego State

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“You know how sometimes you just have that feeling where it’s just going to go your way,” Mia Casey said. “The song they played beforehand, the energy we had — you can look bench-to-bench and see the difference in energy.”

A big difference between the two sides prior to the penalty kicks was the energy. On one side, the Rams could be seen jumping and dancing, while the Aztecs took a different approach by remaining calm. 

Casey said “Mr. Brightside” is goalkeeping coach Josh Purdum’s favorite song, and they play it postgame every time the Rams win.

Once again, the defense is the story for CSU. The veteran unit continued to suffocate the opposing offense. Shayna Ross has been a big part of that defense, but for her, it’s more about the team effort.

“I’m not taking them anywhere; it’s a team effort,” Ross said. “This train takes a lot of people to get it moving, so I’m just on it — I’m riding the wave with everyone else, and I’m just so excited for what we have.”

The Rams outshot the Aztecs 19-8, and while the offense appeared in control, there was still some frustration as none of the shots were getting past the Aztecs goalkeeper.

“It does get a little frustrating because that’s your main goal,” Casey said. “That’s everything that you work for in the game is to get the goal in the back of the net. But at the same time, our defense is working hard to keep it out, and the least you can do is just help your defense keep it out. Because then you get a chance here, you get to go to PKs, and we practice PKs — we’re prepared.”

Casey, along with other young forwards joining the team, was a big storyline in the offseason. Olivia Fout was the most senior of the bunch as a sophomore, but even she didn’t see the field a lot at Auburn

Despite the lack of experience, three first-year players stepped into the box and hit penalty kicks for the Rams: Casey, Sofia Coulombe and Taite DeLange.

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“They’ve obviously brought more talent to our program, and they love the game, and they’re passionate, and that just makes a big difference to our culture,” coach Keeley Hagen said. “(I’m) so happy that our seniors get this opportunity, and that’s who we’re playing for.”

That youth and those players have landed Hagen and CSU soccer in the Mountain West championship for the very first time in program history. 

Hagen took over the team in 2021. She was named as the second coach in program history, taking over a team that had gone 2-4-1 in the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season. 

What she has done in the past three seasons for the CSU program has been nothing short of spectacular. 

Prior to the season, CSU wasn’t given a lot of credit as a team to watch for. In the MW preseason poll, the Rams were voted to finish seventh out of 12 teams. Fast forward to November, and they will play for first place against Utah State at noon Nov. 4 in Laramie, Wyoming. 

“You could feel the belief coming into it,” Casey said. “And Keeley kept saying, ‘We have nothing to lose. We’re the fourth seed playing the No. 1 team. If we lose, (it’s) expected. Whatever.’ But we made it so much further. We were predicted to finish seventh (and) not even make it to the tournament, and here we are headed to the championship. Don’t sleep on CSU — we’re having a great time here.”

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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