Less than three months ago, the Boise State soccer team took the field with their eyes on one momentous prize: to win a program-first Mountain West Championship tournament paired with an automatic bid to the national tournament. As of Thursday. Nov. 7, the team is one step closer to accomplishing that goal.
No. 1 Boise State scored six unanswered goals on No. 4 New Mexico to claim their spot in the conference tournament’s championship game. A hat trick from senior forward Raimee Sherle paired with immense roster depth led the Broncos to their dominant victory.
“I think you could just tell the emotion was there, everyone was just hyped and wanted to come back, especially after last week after the loss,” said senior midfielder Mikayla Schachtell. “We just knew what was on the line and we just wanted to give our full effort. The defense was there and didn’t let many shots off and our forwards put it away for us.”
Boise State went into the semifinal 2-0 against the Lobos. The game was scoreless until the 24th minute when senior forward Lillie French threw the ball into Sherle who shot it right between two defenders for her 13th goal of the season. Within the next 1:59, the Broncos scored twice more. Sherle and junior forward Aubree Chatterton found the net, both assisted by senior forward Kristina Serres.
Sherle’s two goals in 58 seconds are the fastest consecutive goals scored by a Boise State player.
“I think we had a few opportunities before my first goal and it was kind of frustrating… so it was really nice to finally get that one goal and then everything started rolling,” Sherle said. “We started getting all of our opportunities and putting them away. So it was really nice to just kind of break down the barrier with that first goal and everything else came flooding down.”
The scoreboard continued to light up as freshman forward Gabby Gillespie tallied up a goal of her own, assisted by redshirt junior forward Ashleigh Harrison. The Broncos entered the half up 4-0 after 14 shots, and the Broncos never looked back.
In the 55th minute, Sherle completed her hat trick unassisted. The starters began to be substituted off the field, and the Broncos saw action from 11 more players from the more-than-capable bench. Gillespie found the net unassisted, marking her second goal of the day.
“Gabby’s a tremendous goalscorer, always has been,” said head coach Jim Thomas. “It’s a nightmare in training for our backline and it’s why we’re as good as we are right now because these guys that are out there are so good in training every week. I’m proud of them for having the opportunity today.”
Last year, the Broncos were upset 4-3 by San Jose State in PKs in the semifinals. The Spartans went on to claim the tournament title. The upset left the Broncos incredibly disappointed but determined to avoid the same situation again.
“[Avoiding PKs] was definitely a focus. We’ve been working on them all week, but none of us wanted to get there,” Schachtell said. “So we all knew and made a collective effort to make sure that doesn’t happen and put them away early and get the win. “
Just before the Broncos recorded the shutout, No. 2 San Diego State took down No. 3 Fresno State to secure their own spot in the championship game. New Mexico defeated San Diego 6-0 just a week ago on Nov. 1.
San Diego has won five tournament titles, with the latest in 2017. In the 2017 semifinals, it was Boise State who the Aztecs defeated 1-0 to move on. Given their history, the Broncos are well aware of the competition that is ahead of them.
“To get to a championship game, we’ve kind of been talking about it a lot this week. Nothing is given to you, everything is earned and so you need to go out and take it,” Sherle said. “I think we went out and took it today and we wanted it really bad and you could see that from how we played on the pitch as well. That was the mentality going into this game and just taking it one game at a time and hopefully getting to that championship game in front of friends and family.”
The Broncos beat the Aztecs 2-1 earlier this season and are 5-7 against them all-time. The teams are tied in their 2019 regular season conference records at 8-3.
“[San Diego has] a tremendous, tremendous midfield. It’s not a surprise for anybody, they have three players in there that can conduct the game and hurt you at any one point,” Thomas said. “So it’s going to be very important for us in the back two lines to be really, really organized and try and deny anything penetrative.”
The championship game between the Broncos (17-4) and Aztecs (10-8-1) is set for Saturday, Nov. 9 at noon at the BOAS Soccer Complex. The winner will have an automatic bid to the 2019 Women’s D1 College Cup in San Jose, Calif.
“We have to bring the same kind of emotional approach that we brought today,” Thomas said. “It’s something that we have to rise to and it’s not something that we usually do; we’re very pragmatic throughout the week. And what we’ve added over the last couple of weeks is that emotional piece to this to the whole puzzle and we’re going to have to rise up to that emotional level again, to compete for a championship.”