23 Sep Conference Play Starts at Home for Rams
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – After an 11-day break from game action, the Colorado State soccer team will return to the pitch Friday and will do so to begin Mountain West play, starting with San Diego State at 4 p.m. at the CSU Soccer Field.
After Friday’s game against the Aztecs (2-6), the Rams (1-2-2) will host New Mexico (5-2) Sunday at 1 p.m. Aside from the anomaly of the spring 2021 Mountain West season, this will be the third season in a row that the Rams have played SDSU and UNM in the opening conference weekend. In 2019, the Rams split the series with an overtime win and first-ever win over the Lobos, while 2018 saw CSU tie the Aztecs for their first non-loss in the series.
“We were excited to take these last 12 days to get after it and continue to raise the standard,” head coach Keeley Hagen said. “We talk about this a lot, ‘It doesn’t matter the opponent, it is about what our standard is going to be and about how are we going to prepare every single day to get better individually’. Scoring goals is an outcome goal but it’s a process of how we get from our goalkeeper into the attacking third in order to get a shot on goal. So, when you do find the back of the net, it brings confidence, and we will continue to build on that confidence.”
Prior to those 11 days off, the Rams routed Idaho State, 6-0, in a game that represented the most goals in program history, the best goal differential and the first win in the Hagen era. The Aztecs and Lobos will challenge the Rams with a what has been the top level of competition in the conference as both won their respective “West” and “Mountain” divisions in the spring conference format. The Lobos prevailed in the title game to advance to the NCAA College Cup where they reached the second round.
“Training is a controlled environment, so when we get to the game, we see what our training has taught us,” Hagen continued. “Ala the Navy Seals, you don’t raise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training. Our goal in training is to continue to push our mentality. How can we get tougher? The only way you can get tougher is by being in tough environments. We are really going to push ourselves to their limit, sharpen our skills and clean up our tactics. That’s what we are excited about going into conference.”
CSU Soccer Notebook
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Last Time Out
– Last week, the Rams were off, but the weekend prior they obtained their first win of the season and did so by scoring a program-record six goals to defeat Idaho State, 6-0.
– Not only were the six goals a program record, but the 6-0 win was also the best goal differential for CSU in a game. Kristen Noonan and Gracie Armstrong nearly got hat tricks as they had two goals apiece, while Liv Layton and Kaitlyn Abrams provided the other two scores.
Lots of Free Soccer Early
– Overtime was a theme early in the season as three of the four regular season games needed extra time in addition to one of the exhibitions.
– Five games, five starting lineups. Six Rams (Samantha Studt, Caroline Lucas, Haylee Blach, Baylee Bedard, Kenady Leighton, Amanda Green) have started all five games. Page 3 of game notes has the breakdown of the starting lineups.
– The Rams trail both teams this weekend in the all-time series. The Aztecs lead 6-0-1 with the lone tie coming in the 2018 Fort Collins’ meeting. The Lobos hold the 8-1 advantage with the Rams’ win occurring in 2019 at home. Full series history and last meeting box scores are on page seven of the game notes.
– After a team vote, captains were announced prior to game one and the results were all seniors; Sam Studt, Haylee Blach and Baylee Bedard.
– Studt has started 45 of her 48 career games. Blach has started all 12 career games at CSU. Bedard has started 25 of 34 games played since arriving in 2018.
Colorado State Notes
– Fifteen letterwinners return including 11 starters, however only six of those would have been considered starters after the last full season in 2019. Eleven newcomers make up the roster with 10 freshmen and one transfer.
– Armstrong represents the top point returner with her six from the spring and 22 in her career. Her five career goals are tied sixth all-time, while she already holds the career and individual season assist records – both at eight.
– Another key returner on offense is senior Kristen Noonan who has 14 career goals. She had five at Cal State Fullerton as a freshman.
– San Diego State has not gotten off to a hot start, but also its schedule has not been the easiest either. The Aztecs went 0-3 against Pac-12 teams (#10 Stanford, Washington State, #3 UCLA). The Aztecs also fell to two top West Coast Conference teams in #9 Pepperdine and Saint Mary’s.
– SDSU is picked to finish in second place in the MW coaches’ preseason poll. This marks the 11th time in 12 seasons the Aztecs have been picked to finish in either first or second place.
– The defending Mountain West Champions have picked up where they left off from the spring. Going into the weekend, NM leads the MW in total points, goals per game and assists per game.
– In the preseason coaches’ poll, the Lobos were picked to repeat as champions. They return 22 letterwinners including nine starters.
Team Connections w/ Aztecs
– Lauren Wheeler (Del Norte HS) went 2-1 against Trinity Coker (Poway) during their senior years including a playoff 3-1 Del Norte HS win in the first round of the playoffs.
– Shayna Ross practiced with several Aztecs for her former club, the San Diego Surf, including Lily Davis, Hope Paredes, Dori Savage and Denise Castro
Team Connections w/ Lobos
– Kenady Leighton and Ali Davis both played on Portland Thorns Academy
– Gracie Armstrong and Molly Myers played together at Washington State in 2018.
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