After last Saturday’s 12-24 loss at the Air Force, the CSU soccer schedule finally reached its final game.
This Friday against New Mexico, the 2-9 Rams wrap up a season that fell far short of the expectations the program had before the team made its trip to Michigan in September.
For 17 seniors, this may be their last game, although some still have the option to play another year.
CSU head coach Jay Norvell wants to make sure these seniors, many of whom took different routes to get to their final game, are recognized.
“A handful of these guys have an extra year of eligibility and will potentially return next year,” Norvell said. “We really want to honor these children. I just think what is sometimes overlooked is what student athletes do to complete four to five years of eligibility and play a collegiate sport. They’ve gone through a lot of changes, many of them with a few different coaches. Many of them have had many adversities throughout their careers, many injuries throughout their careers.
For some, like linebacker Dequan Jackson, it will mark the end of a long tenure at CSU, during which he played under multiple coaches. Others, like offensive lineman Gray Davis, came to CSU with one year remaining to play.
Davis played for Norvell in Nevada and made 40 starts on the offensive line during his time there. This consistency has continued this season at the CSU. Davis has started every game for the Rams this season and has played more snaps than any other player this year.
“It’s very difficult to switch and start all over again,” Norvell said. “If you’ve ever had to move and start a new job, there are so many new things that you need to learn and understand and have your teammates understand. These guys have done their jobs quietly but have made a huge contribution to our ability to play. They leave their legacy. You train these newbies. You have done an amazing job. We would like to send them out with a win on Friday.”
For the retiring seniors, this is their final week of training and preparation for game day. On Friday they will do many more things for the last time as CSU footballers.
They might not think about it now because their focus is on winning their last game, but as the competition progresses, and especially after the game, they expect their ride to be over.
“For me personally, I feel like I know my clock is ticking,” Jackson said. “I was paying attention and trying to make the most of every moment. I know it’s my last game. I’ve been thinking a little bit, but I’m just concentrating on finishing and being strong, and the rest will hit me afterwards. I don’t think about it that much yet. It’s one of those things that you can’t control.
“I don’t even know how I’m going to feel. i may be emotional I can’t be. I can just be happy. I can cry I must not cry.”
Above all, the seniors want to go out of the tournament with a win. It would be a positive end to a season that didn’t go the way they would have liked.
But a win in the final would also have a deeper meaning for the seniors. Aside from leaving a positive mark on the season, it would be something for the players returning to build on.
“It would mean a lot, at least for the seniors,” Davis said. “It’s quite difficult to prepare week after week, no matter how the season is going. Just being able to finish strong and finish my college career on a strong note is the first thing on my mind. You want to be able to remember the past year, if you end it with a win there are positive things to carry on and build on.
“So I think there are a lot of reasons this game is important for us seniors, for the program and for the future. I think it will be an overall positive boon for the program and the players around if we can get a win here on Friday.”
CSU and New Mexico begin Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Canvas Stadium.