This is the first in a series of articles of Pueblo players who opted to stay home and continue their athletic and academic careers at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
The memory of getting knocked on her kiester during her first collegiate game is fresh in her mind.
Since then, Cara Siegel has come a long way for the Colorado State University-Pueblo women's soccer team.
Now a junior, Siegel received a rude introduction to college soccer as a true freshman.
"Definitely coming in my freshman year I will never forget the first game we played against UNM (University of New Mexico) I actually got rocked," she said. "And when I looked up I was right in front of my coaches and they literally said 'welcome to college soccer.'
"That has stuck with me since that happened. Ever since then, my mentality has just been I have to be 10 times more aggressive than in high school and work 10 times harder for anything I want to achieve in this sport."
Siegel has been an integral part of the team since she was recruited out of Centennial High School where she played four seasons, pouring in 35 goals with 16 assists. Last year, Siegel scored three goals and added an assist, playing in all 18 games, starting 15.
As a freshman, she scored three goals on 41 shots, 14 on goal, starting all 19 games as a striker.
Asked why CSU-Pueblo?, Siegel responded: "I basically chose CSU-Pueblo because ever since I entered high school Pueblo has given me so much, they've been supportive of my entire career. The least I could do is return the favor by playing for my hometown university and basically giving my all and give back to the community the only way I know how."
Siegel has progressed nicely since arriving on the Belmont campus.
"Since my freshman year, I've had a lot of improvement in my composure, play and decision making," she said "I definitely feel like I'm improved under the coaching staff that's here."
Siegel, a 6-footer, has learned to be much more physical.
"Some of the teams we play against I am small, some of these girls are brutes," she said. "I'm just a little string bean next to them. It's definitely physicality is the most important part of college soccer because if you are going to let these girls walk all over you you not going to be getting the W at the end of the day."
Siegel believes her best quality is her mind.
"My strengths is probably is more my mindset and character," she said. "I think I bring a lot of spark and spunk to this team, I have that little touch of fire. I have the speed, I think, I have the power for shots, maybe a little bit more accuracy."
"I had surgery on both my legs a year ago so trying to come back from that," she said. "I had double compartment syndrome in both my legs my freshman year, played through my freshman year, had surgery that summer. It's hard to come back from. My legs get tired easily and it's a mental game trying to play through it."
A mass communication major, Siegel believes CSU-Pueblo was a good choice and a good choice for Pueblo high school players.
"All I can tell (recruits) is if you want to be a part of a university that has an entire community behind you this is definitely your pick," Siegel said. "We're all that Pueblo has. The support and fan base is like no other. It's an experience in all itself just to play here."
Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JeffLetofsky