Enough time has passed since he patrolled the sideline at Prentup Field that Bill Hempen no longer battles nostalgia much whenever he returns with his Colorado State women’s soccer team.
There is, however, one notable exception.
In the northwest corner of the field, just down the sideline from the visitor’s bench that Hempen manned for the third time since starting CSU’s program in 2014, there is a banner commemorating the Buffaloes’ 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Hempen, who helped lead the CU women’s soccer program into national prominence during his run as the Buffs’ coach from 2001 through 2011, still recalls the first six of those NCAA berths fondly.
“I’m way past that now, but I did look at (that banner),” Hempen said Sunday after this CSU Rams played the Buffs to a scoreless draw. “It’s fun to play here. Still a lot of good friends here and I enjoy seeing those faces. But I’ve turned the page pretty much.”
While Hempen always has his current club ready to play his former club — the past four matchups between the Buffs and CSU have featured three ties and a one-goal win by CU — he still is trying to establish the Rams as a bona fide contender in the Mountain West Conference. Hempen said the expectations within his program are much higher than the 11th-place slotting CSU received in the MWC preseason coaches poll, and the Rams certainly played like it Sunday at Prentup.
Hempen started the CSU program in 2013. Sunday’s result moved his record with the Rams to 16-67-13, and they have never won more than four games in a season. However, his mark of 0-2-3 against the Buffs is somewhat respectable, particularly since CU was an NCAA Tournament team in three of those previous four seasons.
“Our expectations are higher than they’ve been for a while now, but we still haven’t proven it,” Hempen said. “If losing builds character, then we are one group of characters. Because we play our tails off but we haven’t found that bounce where it’s off the post and in instead of off the post and out. That’s the hardest thing is to get them to break through in that moment and realize they can win this kind of game.”