Soccer Falls to Cougars 2-1
Aug. 30, 2015
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BOISE, Idaho - Boise State women's soccer mounted a feverish attack in the final 20 minutes of the match, but could not find an equalizing goal and lost 2-1 against Washington State Sunday, in the home opener for the Broncos. The riveting action played out in front of 916 fans, the third-largest attendance in program history, and biggest since 2010.
"The energy that was buzzing from the crowd was awesome," said head coach Jim Thomas. "The kind of defensive effort we played with today was all born out of the energy they provided. And our defense directly led to our best attacking opportunities."
The Cougars scored early, but the Broncos tied the match late in the first half to send the teams into the locker room even 1-1. Not long after the teams emerged, Washington State (3-0-0) tallied the go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute after an uncharacteristic turnover by the Broncos. Boise State (0-3-0) pushed forward late in the game and rattled off five shots in the final 10 minutes but could not put the ball in the back of the net again.
"That team has been highly ranked and will continue to be highly ranked," said Thomas. "You end up outshooting them 14-9, it was 8-4 in the second half, 3-1 in corners, you really start to control that match. Hopefully that's a game that helps us start to see ourselves on that level. We have difficult games this coming weekend and need to carry this effort forward into those."
Washington State got on the board first in the 17th minute with a rebound goal from point-blank range. Grace Hancock sent a shot from nearly 30 yards out rifling toward the right post. Boise State goalkeeper Janelle Flores soared to cover the upper corner of the goal, but the shot sailed high and off the crossbar, falling to the feet of Cara Wegner in the box. Wegner pushed a shot across the goal line from four yards out.
Boise State responded right away. Less than a minute later, the Bronco attack fed a ball to Laura Buck in the penalty area and Buck got off a shot, forcing a save and resulting in a corner kick. It was the first shot on goal for the Broncos this season. They continued to push forward over the next 15 minutes, finally breaking through with the first goal of the season to tie the game in the 34th minute.
Senior Brooke Heidemann controlled a throw-in around midfield and sent a pass ahead to the right side of the 18-yard box as freshman Michelle Reed slipped behind the defense. Reed ran onto the ball, side-stepped the Cougar goalkeeper and tucked a shot inside the far post from 15 yards away. The first goal of Reed's career came on the seventh assist for Heidemann. The senior now has 41 points in her career, tied for third all-time with former teammate Shannon Schueren.
Heidemann continued to push the pace for the Broncos from her midfield position. The second half saw her control possession and dictate much of the game. She took three shots in the half, putting one on goal. She also created numerous opportunities for teammates all over the park.
"Brooke was other-worldly today," said Thomas. "In the second half, she was a different class of player. It was really unfortunate to not get a goal out of all the great things she was doing."
Still, it was one turn of events that saw the Cougars take the lead for good. A long free kick reversed the field for Boise State, but the ensuing touch was turned over and the defense scrambled to rotate into position. Washington State made a run down the left sideline, eventually creating a 2-on-1 opportunity. A centering pass across the top of the box found Nicolle Marlow all alone and one touch later Marlow scooted a shot below Flores' sprawled reach to the right post.
Now facing a 2-1 deficit, the Broncos marched forward. Baylee Blaser, Dani Brown, Eva Herrera and Kayla Tucker all joined Heidemann in pushing the ball into the attacking third of the field and looking for opportunities to tie the score. Boise State pressured the Cougar back line for nearly 15 consecutive minutes at the end of the match only to see good look after good look slide just wide or just high of the net.
"Now is a great opportunity for us to gel all the different dynamics we have coming into the attack," said Thomas. "There was a lot of hard work out there, and if we would have been a little more savvy it could have opened up a bit more for us. There were a couple of times we didn't get Brooke the ball in isolation on the flank; we took a couple of long range shots early in the attack; we took shots from distance when there were options on the post. We allow a lot of freedom, but we want that freedom to be directed toward finding a specific thing and we may need to clarify that a little bit as we move forward."
The Broncos outshot the Cougars 14-9. The outburst came after mustering just eight shots in the first two matches of the season, when they were outshot 30-8 combined.
"We worked diligently the last week on adjusting the system to suit the players, as opposed to just applying a system or a tactic," said Thomas. "There were some pretty significant tactical changes in the line of confrontation and recovery points. They were so good for 90 minutes today at executing what we asked them to do. As a coaching staff and a team that is now coming together stronger and stronger, I couldn't be more proud of the effort they put out there."
Boise State will now prepare for a rivalry weekend with split matches home and away. The Broncos host Idaho Friday, at 4 p.m., as part of a busy day in Boise State Athletics. The soccer match kicks off the #BoiseStateTrifecta promotion as fans who attend the soccer match, volleyball match and football game that day and post about it on social media using the hashtag will be entered to win great prizes and see themselves on the video board at the football game.
The Broncos will wrap up the weekend with a Sunday match at Idaho State. Boise State has not won in Pocatello since 2002.
"Next week is kind of a fork in the road," said Thomas. "You can't fall too many games below .500. Today I felt we were deserving of a point and it's unfortunate not to get a result. That puts an awful lot of onus on the match here Friday night against the Vandals."
Quotes From Coach Thomas
"To see Michelle Reed come in and have that kind of impact in a game was wonderful. That now bodes the next question, how do we play all of these guys on the field at the same time?"
"If we were to expose ourselves the way we did at the end of that game long term and expend that kind of energy, it would highlight some of the youth out there rather than protect it. It did show that not only can we defensively organize ourselves to stifle a very good attack and a very strong, physical team, but that we can take those blows, last and run with them, then deliver our own. I thought the fitness of our team was incredible today."
"The recovery piece is paramount for us this week. That was a physically-demanding game and a lot faster than any Sunday game because it was a one-game week for both teams."
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