Broncos Overcome Gaels in Double OT
Sept. 18, 2015
MORAGA, Calif. - The fourth time's a charm. Boise State women's soccer went to double overtime for the fourth-consecutive match Friday, but Baylee Blaser delivered the Broncos' first overtime win of the year with a 106th-minute goal to beat Saint Mary's 2-1 on the road.
"I told the team after the match, `let's make this a turning point,'" said head coach Jim Thomas of the emotional win that now puts the Broncos at 2-4-2 on the year. "There was no panic in this group, they remained calm. When you look at the last four or five games and the expectations of this season and how those don't exactly mesh, there was a lot going on and a lot of reasons to get tight in our fourth straight overtime game. We didn't. We did a great job of sticking to what we do best."
Blaser put home the sudden-victory goal from 10 yards out. It is her second goal of the season and fifth of her career. The Boise native now has two game-winning goals to her name, both coming in double overtime. The win is Boise State's first road victory against a West Coast Conference foe in program history.
Kayla Tucker enjoyed a breakout performance in the match, scoring a wonder goal in the 62nd minute and assisting on the game winner. It was Tucker's eighth career goal and put the Broncos on top 1-0.
"The goal Tucker scored," Thomas said, "I tell you what, that's up there. That's about as good as I've seen. From the buildup to the finish, it doesn't get much better."
The opportunity started all the way back with goalkeeper Janelle Flores playing the ball to Jessie Vogel and eventually up the left sideline. KT Clayton took on defenders and crossed the midfield stripe before finding Brooke Heidemann in the center of the field. Heidemann turned back and played Madi Campbell in the center circle. Campbell switched sides with a long ball to Tucker streaking down the right side. The redshirt junior did the rest of the work, cutting back in to the top of the box, hesitating around her defender and lining up twisting a 20-yard blast on her left foot. The shot gained quickly on the Saint Mary's goalkeeper and soared over her head, dipping just below the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Tucker, who was not in the starting lineup for the first time in 41 matches, matched her career high with three points in the match--her first three points of the season. Thomas said her step forward is a direct result of focusing on not rushing decisions.
"The point of emphasis for Kayla to take an extra touch and take her time on her finish was a big one," said Thomas. "If a defender comes up and challenges her, Tucker can beat her. There are very few situations that Kayla will not get a shot off. The goal she scored she showed tremendous composure to come toward traffic and it's not something out of the norm for her. She just needs to continue to show that composure and she can get on a roll."
Saint Mary's (5-2-2) answered quickly with a goal in the 69th minute. Jessica Imbrie played a through ball to Hannah Diaz on the right side of the penalty box. Diaz won a one-on-one battle against a Bronco defender and rifled a shot across the mouth of the goal, past a diving Flores and just inside the left post. It was one of just three shot attempts for the Gaels in the match, two of which were on goal. Flores stopped the other attempt that was on target. The sophomore's work in goal was also a large reason she did not face many shots.
"Janelle was tremendous today," said Thomas. "She claimed some incredibly difficult and awkward crosses. After a wobbly game last week she really showed some steel and maturity, specifically playing the crosses."
Boise State took 12 shots in the match, putting five on goal. The Broncos were able to get a shot off in each overtime period.
Blaser's shot was set up by Tucker and Michelle Reed playing off each other at the left angle of the box. Reed sent a ball into the middle of the penalty area, searching for Blaser in a sea of Gaels. The lone Bronco in the fray came away with the ball, powered through the crowd and shook free of the last defender. From 10 yards away, Blaser pushed the ball back toward the left post and beat the keeper. The bruising, brute-force goal showed a glimpse of how dominant the athletic and powerful Boise State forward can be.
"If Baylee can add this to her arsenal, she will really be a force," said Thomas. "She's been striking the ball great and beating defenders well. The piece we've lacked with her is the bite. Seeing her do that for today's goal should be a warning shot across the bow for any upcoming opponent. If she can keep up that kind of tenacity, she can score a bag load of goals."
Boise State received contributions from up and down the roster. Sixteen Broncos played at least 25 minutes
"A lot of people played important minutes," said Thomas. "There were a lot of quick substitutions and a lot of players gave us a really meaningful 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Nobody fit that description more than Kelsey Nicasio. She won so many balls for us in the midfield."
The Broncos will continue the road trip with a visit to another WCC opponent Sunday, at San Francisco. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. MT. The Dons are 6-1-2, entering a Friday night meeting with No. 13 California.
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