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The Colorado St. Rams wrapped up their final regular season games and are now are setting their sites on the conference tournament in two weeks. This past weekend Colorado State went 1-4 with a 1-3 record against conference foes.
The first game was Friday night against Cal State Monterey Bay and Colorado State came out sluggish and fell flat. Their defense had a tough time in the first half and fell behind 11-5 after two quarters. In the second half the offense and defense played better and won the second half 4-3, but overall this was not a good showing by Colorado State.
This was a game that Colorado State could have won and head coach Mike Moody mentioned that his team had a lot of missed opportunities that might have given Colorado State a chance in this game.
The first game on Saturday was against Santa Clara where Colorado State fell 12-8. The game was close for the first two quarter as the two teams were tied at five at the half, but then the third quarter started which is where Colorado State collapsed and was outscored 4-1 in the third and 3-2 in the fourth quarter to lose their second game of the weekend.
The lead faded away for Colorado State when they allowed two quick goals by Santa Clara to make it 7-5, but Shelby Schaefer but Colorado State back within one goal on a breakaway. Santa Clara countered once again to go up 8-6, and their goalie Stephanie Clements blocked two point blank attempts from Colorado State to keep their lead at two goals.
Those close range shots and only having the goalie in one's way must be converted, and missed opportunities has been a common theme for Colorado State this season. They have been getting better as a team, but have not yet been able to get over the hump to move into the top half of the WWPA.
The second game for Colorado State on Saturday was not much better against Sonoma State where Colorado State lost 8-6. This was a game that Colorado State needed to win to move up from the bottom of the league standings. Colorado State fell behind 6-1 in the third quarter before they made a run of five consecutive goals to tie the game at six, but that was the last of the scoring for Colorado State. Sonoma State went on to score two more goals to win 8-6.
The first game on Sunday was against No. 8 ranked San Jose St. Spartans in a game Colorado State was not likely to win. San Jose State scored four goals in each of the first three quarters to ultimately win 13-5.
The good news on the weekend for Colorado State came on the final game of the weekend as they upset Cal State East Bay 8-7. Cal State East Bay ended the regular season 10-6 in WWPA, and is the best win Colorado State had all year.
This game was close throughout and Colorado State got off to a 2-1 lead after the first quarter. East Bay kept it close in the second quarter as they matched the Rams goal-for-goal to go to the half trailing 4-3. Colorado State increased their lead 6-4 heading into the final quarter. East Bay did outscore the Colorado State 3-2 in the fourth, but Colorado State came out with the 8-7 victory to split the season series at one game apiece.
The Colorado St. Rams are in their final weekend of Western Water Polo play before the conference tournament begins in two weeks and are playing five games with four being league contests. Of the four conference games Colorado State plays this weekend, California State Easy Bay is the toughest game this weekend outside of playing No. 8 ranked San Jose St. Spartans.
With this being the final games before the conference tournament, seeding is on the line for the WWPA tournament. As of now Colorado State is No. 8 with only a better record than Cal State San Bernardino, however Colorado State can move up a spot or two as they play Sonoma State who is 3-8 in league play and Cal State Monterey Bay who is 4-5. Neither of those teams are head and shoulders above Colorado State, so they have a chance to move up.
Colorado State at Cal State Monterey Bay 7 p.m. MT
This is a key game to get the weekend going right for Colorado State. Cal Sate Monterey Bay is 4-5 in league play and 11-10 overall, but a win would provide a chance for Colorado State to avoid playing LMU or Cal State Bakersfield in the opening round of the WWPA conference tournament in two weeks. Monterey Bay is led by Senior Nikki Smart who had eight goals this past weekend and leads the team with 76 goals. Smart is their two-meter player and has drawn 46 ejections and is a defensive presence with 32 steals, both team highs.
The other scoring threat is Katie Sowul who has 62 goals on the year, and after that the next leading scorer comes in at 23. So, if Colorado State can slow down Sowul and Smart then they have a chance to get a win. The goalie situation for Monterey Bay is split among Paige Robinson and Amanda Johnson who have had varying success. Robinson is the primary goal tender and has started 14 games and played in 21 of them, while Johnson has only six starts but has played in 21 games. As a team Monterey Bay has allowed 10.04 goals per game.
Colorado State will need to get their offense going since Monterey Bay allows double-digit goals per game and if Kallie Berry and Caroline Young can get on the scoreboard early the Colorado State should be able to be in good shape to get the win. The second half is when Colorado State can struggle, so if they can get out to at least a three goal lead at the half then they stand a good chance. Colorado State will need their defense to show up, because they are give up 10 goals per game as well, so they will need their goalie to step up. The field players defense is strong for Colorado State as they average over 10 steals and two field blocks per game. Basically if Colorado State wants tow in they will need to build at least a two goal lead at the half and have their goalie play an above average game.
Colorado State at Santa Clara, 3:15 p.m. MT
Santa Clara is 5-7 in WWPA league play and this would be a nice upset if Colorado State can get the win. On offense Santa Clara is a balanced team that has four players with over 20 goals with Marina Allen leading the way with 37 goals.
One thing that Santa Clara does extremely well is to draw ejections. Laura Espinosa has drawn 65 ejections which is at 2.3 per game, and that includes drawing nine penalty shots. As a team they average 8.32 ejections per game, so Colorado State will need to keep their major players from getting into foul trouble.
Colorado State vs. Sonoma State, 7 p.m. MT
This game provides yet another opportunity for Colorado State to move up the WWPA standings as Sonoma State is 3-8 on the year. They are a lower scoring team and average only seven goals per game, but that is on par with Colorado State who averages 7.9 per game.
Expect this game to be a close matchup, and look for the winner to be the team who has an explosive quarter. Sonoma's game plan is to keep the offense moving and draw ejections to gain an advantage, so Colorado State needs to play smart defense and let their drivers go by and play help defense and not allow to get an ejection.
Colorado State vs. No. 8 San Jose State, 11 a.m. MT
This is the only non-WWPA game, but it continues the stretch of Colorado State playing a top-10 schedule. Last week San Jose State had two heartbreaking loses to No. 4 Arizona State and No. 3 USC. So this game for Colorado State will not be easy, however San Jose State has been an up and down team so if Colorado State can catch them on a bad day they could make this a close game.
As for getting a win it is not likely as San Jose State is a very good defensive team and could shut down the Colorado State offense. However, the scoring attack for San Jose State is not overly impressive as they average , but that could be due to them playing in the MPSF which is just the toughest league.
Colorado State vs. Cal State East Bay, 4 p.m. MT
This is the toughest league game of the weekend as Cal State East Bay is second in the WWPA with a conference record of 7-4. This game means much more for Colorado State than it does for Cal State East Bay, since right now the lowest Cal State East Bay could drop is to the No. 3 spot while Colorado State can possibly move up a few spots before the conference tournament.
Cal State East Bay typically plays close games as they have done all year with the exception of a few games when they played LMU where they were crushed 20-3 and then had blowout wins over Fresno Pacific, Azusa Pacific and La Verne.
So, there stands a chance this game will be decided by at most four goals. Leading the way for Cal State East Bay is Claire Pierce who leads the 61 goals and averages 2.37 ejections per game and there is also Erica Crain who has 43 goals, 31 assists and 50 steals. Crain is also a much more accurate shooter at 40 percent compared to Pierce who connects on only 27 percent of her shots.
Goalie Jayme Pekarske blocks an average of 10 shots per game and only a 7.37 goal against average per game. Colorado State will have to make sure their shots count if they are going to have a chance to pull off this upset.
The Colorado St. Rams set of games at the Roadrunner Invitational III this past weekend went fairly well even though the results netted a 1-3 record. On Saturday the Rams were looking to win their third straight game of the year when they played against the host team Cal State Bakersfield and lost 10-9. Colorado State trailed 5-4 at the half and they made their run in the third quarter by outscoring Bakersfield 3-1 and led 8-7 heading into the four quarter.
Bakersfield tie the game at eight just 44 seconds into fourth quarter by Shannon McKenzie and then Bakersfield took the lead for good with 4:58 left in the game when Paige Tsuruda made it 9-8 which proved to be the game winning goal. The game could have gotten out of hand since Bakersfield had two 6-on-5 opportunities, but the Colorado State defense denied Bakersfield any scoring chances when they had a man advantage. Taylor Hanson put Bakersfield up 10-8 and then Colorado State finally got on the board when Caroline Young scored here fifth goal of the game with 44 second left, but it was too little too late for Colorado State.
This would have been a huge win for Colorado State since Bakersfield is the second best team in WWPA play.
Head coach Mike Moody felt that the team played well in the loss:
"We had a game plan," coach Mike Moody said, "and we executed it well, even though we lost. Bakersfield is a good team, and it came down to the fourth period. They capitalized on a couple key offensive turnovers down the stretch, and that was the difference."
Here is the box score against Bakersfield:
CSU Bakersfield 2 3 2 3 10
Colorado State 2 2 4 1 9
CSUB Goals-Paige Tsuruda 2, Jessica Browning 2, Janelle Shelby 1, Malia Pahoa 1, Bianca Adams 1, Shannon McKenzie 1, Sam Shead 1, Taylor Hanson 1
CS Goals-Caroline Young 5, Shelby Schaefer 2, Stephanie Wood 1, Kallie Berry 1
CSUB Saves-Megan Pezzolla 4, Alex Bayer 3, Taylor Hanson 1
In the second game on Saturday, Colorado State took on No. 19 ranked Hartwick fell in a close game 12-9 in a tough physical contest. Once again Colorado State was led by Young who had six of the teams nine goals, and that six tied a school record for most goals in a single game.
Here is what Moody said about the loss:
"Hartwick is a great porgam," Moody said. "It was a very, very physical game, and I felt like our girls responded well, keeping their cool and continuing to play our game. It didn't show in the end, but our girls played well."
"All in all, I'm proud of the girls," Moody said. "We're very banged up, though, and we're having to work through that stuff in order to get healthy and back to full strength."
On Sunday, Colorado State picked up their first win against Cal State San Bernardino with an offensive clinic by winning 15-14. Colorado State looked to have won this game early as they led 4-1 after one period and 12-8 heading into the fourth quarter. San Bernardino scored nine second half goals including six in the fourth to make this a close game. The game was closer than expected and the second team earned a lot of experience in the win..
In the final game of the weekend Colorado State matched up against No. 7 ranked Loyola Marymount Lions, but LMU was too much as they defeated Colorado State 12-10. This is actually a much better improvement compared to the last time the two schools played which saw LMU win 16-6. Colorado State fell behind early in this game 8-3 after one and then 8-4 at the half, but a rush of goals in the third period cut the lead to 10-9 and 11-10, but LMU's senior Kimberly Benedetti iced the game with less than a minute to give them the 12-10 victory.
Here is the box score:
Loyola Marymount --- 5 - 3 - 1 - 3 --- 12
Colorado State --- 3 - 2 - 3 - 3 --- 10
SCORING: LMU- Mackenzie Beck 3, Alexandra Honny 3, Casey Flacks 2, Kimberly Benedetti 2, Laura Lopez 1, Whitney Delgado 1. CSU- Kallie Berry 2, Shelby Schaefer 2, Jamie Stone 1, Amber Bryan 1, Brianna Sherring 1, Caroline Young 1, Stephanie Weed 1.
SAVES: LMU- Elise Ponce 6. CSU - Michelle Slagle 13
Colorado State is heading to Cal State Bakersfield for four games this weekend.