Fresh off their program-first Mountain West championship title, the Boise State soccer team is set to square off against the only undefeated team in the nation: BYU.
Monday afternoon’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show revealed that the Broncos (18-4-0) will face the Cougars (18-0-1) for the first round on Friday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. on BYU’s home turf, South Field.
“It’s local; we don’t have to go too far or change time zones or anything weird like that,” said head coach Jim Thomas. “It’s a group that we know. A lot of our players grew up playing their players so there are a lot of common ties there. They are one of the best teams in the country and I feel like we are, too. We are definitely excited for the opportunity.”
To claim their conference title, the Broncos took down San Diego State 2-0 on Saturday, Nov. 9. After losing in the tournament semifinals for three years in a row, this was a massive accomplishment for the Broncos on-and-off the field.
“I don’t even have words for it. I’m literally speechless. I’ve never been a part of something so great my life,” said junior forward Aubree Chatterton. “It was so awesome to have Bronco nation behind us and so many people there to support us and want this so bad for us. So, it just was an awesome environment.”
The Broncos have appeared in the NCAA Tournament one other time as the 2009 Western Athletic Conference champions. The first-round showdown in Provo will be the first meeting between the Broncos and BYU.
BYU finished their season undefeated for the first time in program history and claimed the West Coast Conference title. Ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, No. 4 BYU has scored 68 goals and recorded 12 shut-outs this season.
The Cougars, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, are also 9-0-0 at home.
“If you know anything about Provo, there will be 5,000 BYU fans there regardless, so it’s going to be an experience unlike any other,” Thomas said. “I’ve been there before and have had the opportunity to compete there before, and it’s an amazing experience and an amazing environment. I’m excited for our players to get to experience that and get to rub shoulders with one of the best teams in the country.”
The Broncos’ record-breaking year will surely contribute to their presence against BYU. The 18-win season surpassed the previous program record of 13 wins, which was set in 2013 and met again in 2017. The Broncos allowed a program-best 12 goals all year while scoring a school-record 45 goals.
Senior forward Raimee Sherle, who was named the Mountain West Tournament MVP, has 16 goals and eight assists this season. Four of those goals were scored in the conference tournament, featuring a hat-trick against New Mexico in the semifinals, who the Broncos defeated 6-0.
“We have so many phenomenal young women on our team and we just clicked really well together on and off the pitch and it’s just a dream come true,” Sherle said after the championship win. “Winning a championship with all of your best friends, what more could you want?”
Sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Smith set a school record for shutouts with 13, which is tied for second-most in the nation. The Cougars’ average of 3.58 goals per game combined with Smith’s 0.867 save percentage (about 3.54 saves per game) should make for an intense match-up.
“Both teams come with an attacking mindset,” Thomas said. “It is going to be a wonderful game, really open and free-flowing. I know our players are really excited about that.”