In 2012, the Colorado State University-Pueblo women’s soccer team carried a record of 2-13-2. In 2013, they went 7-10 under the first year guidance of head coach Paul Regrutto.
So far this season, the Thunderwolves are 2-2-1 with wins over Fort Hays State and St. Mary’s Texas. Part of that success has been attributed to the 13 new freshmen members of the team.
Not just in women’s soccer, but in college sports in general, there has been a common notion that freshmen are at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to playing. While some coaches still believe in that philosophy, the times are changing, and more coaches are leaning toward playing freshmen.
For Regrutto, it doesn’t matter if you’re a senior or a freshman.
“If you’re good enough, you’re going to get the opportunity to play. I think they all deserve the opportunity, and a lot of them have shown (that) really well,” he said.
When asked what goes into the process, Regrutto said, “I think you have to look at them, even as freshmen; if they’re ready, you give them the chance that’s been the idea behind the process.”
So far, over eight freshmen have already seen the field, and a few have already made their presence felt on the team. Out of the eight, Tanna Duling, Amanda Chase, and Danelle Dondelinger have received a considerable amount of playing time. Chase, a defender from Alburquerque, has been most effective on the defensive side of the field, solidifying the center back spot.
Duling has proved to be a Swiss army knife for the Thunderwolves. In a 2-1 overtime victory over Fort Hays State, Duling assisted on a Shae McNutt goal in the first half, and then in overtime she scored the game winning goal, the first goal of her college career, all while playing left back.
Dondelinger, who’s a midfielder, has been on the attack all season for the Thunderwolves. Finally, against Colorado School of Mines, it paid off when, 85 minutes into the game, she knocked in her first college career goal.
When training camp first opened, the size of the freshmen class was a shock to returning players; there was more of them than there were veterans, but it didn’t take long for them to bond together.
Dondelinger said, “I came in and fell in love with the team right away. We all blend so nicely, and we’re all super sweet, and it’s nice because we don’t have one person on the team; we’re all important. We’re all a part of the team.”
“This is one of the first teams I’ve ever been on that’s completely a family,” she added, and she believes it is going to help them as a team going forward.
Dondelinger gives a lot of credit to senior forward Brittany Kliesen for helping her transition to the college level.
Calling her a mentor, Dondelinger said, “Every day I play with her, she makes me a better player. Honestly, it’s so fun every time I play with Brittany, I learn something. She’s so nice; she wants to help me.”
While these are some of the freshmen who have seen the most playing time, Regrutto said “all of them are doing a really good job.”
Speaking about the team as a whole, he said, “We’re still trying to figure out exactly our best system and who our best players are. Because we have so many new players, that’s made it a bit of a challenge, but that’s a great thing about being a coach; you have to figure those things out.”