Hagen Setting Standards in First Season

Hagen Setting Standards in First Season

“There are a lot of moving pieces to success, and trying to get there, because you have to trust the process,” senior Sam Studt. “After we did do that, we found success. It was being patient and focusing on the details and that’s what helped us.

“Patience is a virtue, but it is hard. It’s hard to be patient, because when you’re not getting the results that you want or you’re not happy with how this went, you have to be patient. For me, at least, that’s been the hard part.”

Results did not come immediately, either.

They started with a no-contest due to weather. The Rams were 0-2-2 after four games with only one goal to their credit, then won big against Idaho State, 6-0. Then came three consecutive losses without scoring a goal. At 1-5-2, patience is tested and the process could be questioned, but the Rams persisted and responded with a program-record five consecutive victories.

“Keeley talks about the process, and we knew it wasn’t about winning,” Leighton said. “It’s a process, and every game we were getting better, and every game we continued to get better. We trusted that process that Keeley had instilled. We knew even if we weren’t getting the result, we were getting better and we were learning. We know it’s going to come, and it came for us and it led us here.”

It worked, because they trusted Hagen. She didn’t back down from her first ultimatum, nor any which followed. Trust is hard to earn, and easy to lose, and Hagen feels she and her staff have opened a line of communication back and forth which has helped them move forward.

So when the losses mounted, the details still mattered to all the players. Hagen helped them build an attitude where success comes from hard work.

“I think she does a really great job of being straightforward and demanding expectations and setting those expectations and we will reach those expectation,” Studt said. “If we set a standard, then that’s what will be met.”

CSU enters the tournament on a 0-2-1 skid, including a loss to rival Wyoming to close the regular season. It’s not the ideal setting to head to a tournament, but the team has proven it is not easily discouraged. CSU dropped a 1-0 game to Utah State, and also to New Mexico. The Rams feel they are not the same team from those meetings, and they’re out to prove a point.

Whatever happens in the next week, the Rams have set a bar, and a rather important one. But the process is far from over. That is key for Studt, who expects to see a much different team in the future when she returns for alumni events. That’s key for Leighton, who will be around for a while to help cement them in place.

“It’s setting the bar. You set the bar and then you keep raising the bar,” Hagen said. “I told the ladies on the bus Thursday night, the bar has been set to not just get in the tournament, but have that as part of our culture. As emotionally exhausting as they may feel, because for many of them, it’s their first time ever doing this and it’s late in the season, they’ve got to find more in the tank. I alluded to the fact that Final Four teams are playing for another month. This is us setting the bar and then reaching it, setting the bar higher and reaching it. You continue to push that bar higher and higher, and we’re pushing them to understand there is more within them. That’s just the expectation.”

Which was made perfectly clear from the first day.

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