Broncos Down Aztecs 2-1
Sept. 25, 2015
BOISE, Idaho - Two shots on goal was all Boise State needed to take down three-time defending Mountain West champion San Diego State 2-1, Friday, in the conference opener for both teams. The Broncos (3-4-3, 1-0 MW) become the first MW team to beat the Aztecs (4-4, 0-1 MW) in consecutive regular season meetings since UNLV and Utah did so in 2007 and 2008.
Baylee Blaser scored the game's first goal in the 71st minute after Brooke Heidemann's shot from distance hit the post. Seven minutes later Michelle Reed added her own goal to but the Broncos ahead 2-0. Reed's third goal of the season turned out to be the second game winner of her career as San Diego State got one back in the 85th minute, but could not find an equalizer.
"We stuck to the game plan that we set out to execute," said head coach Jim Thomas. "We knew that San Diego State, with all that pace, they come at you in waves. We knew that if we could survive that onslaught that comes at the start of matches and halves, we would be able to turn the screws a bit in the second half and that's what we did."
Boise State limited a potent SDSU offense to just seven shots and only one on frame. The Broncos also turned away seven corner kick opportunities from the Aztecs. Thomas said all week the Broncos had a plan to deal with attacking players Milan Moses and Leah Pruitt.
"It actually worked," Thomas said. "It took a few more bodies than we expected to use. They were a little quicker at moving the ball and more efficient than we thought with their passing accuracy. Once we made a couple of adjustments we got them to turn the ball over a bit more and really got what we wanted."
Despite winning the possession battle, Boise State attempted just six shots. It snaps streaks of seven games that saw the Broncos outshoot their opponents and take at least 12 shots. Thomas and the squad will gladly trade those streaks for what is now a five-match conference win streak which includes two victories over league power San Diego State.
Heidemann had the only good look of the first half for either team. In the 20th minute she unleashed a shot from nearly 30 yards out. The strike caught Aztec keeper Melanie Vaughn out of position and sailed toward the net. The shot had a touch too much zip and struck the underside of the crossbar before it could dip low enough to sneak in for her first goal of the year.
A similar situation presented itself in the 71st minute. Heidemann took possession after a turnover and lined up another shot from 30 yards out.
"I looked up and the keeper was off her line so I tried to quick shot her," said Heidemann. "Unfortunately it hit the post, but fortunately Baylee was there to clean it up."
Blaser said she had but one thing on her mind as the rebound was bouncing toward her, free in the box.
"Just shoot it." Blaser said. "Just shoot it and get it in the goal. It was just me and the goalie and we needed it."
Blaser delivered. She pounded home a 10-yard shot from the left side of the box for her third goal of the season. It was also the fourth assist of the year for Heidemann, setting a career high.
For the next seven minutes the Aztecs pressed to get forward. Boise State's defense held strong and opened a counter-attacking opportunity. Hannah Smith, who made her first-career start Friday, kept a loose ball in along the left sideline and tapped it to Reed. The freshman blazed down the left sideline before cutting in toward the top of the 18-yard box. She pushed through two Aztec defenders and lined up a 15-yard shot that curled in the left side netting.
After taking the 2-0 lead the Broncos backed off and tried to suffocate the hard-charging Aztec attack. Boise State could only contain Moses and Pruitt for 85 minutes. The freshman duo connected at the top of the penalty box with Pruitt feeding a through ball to Moses' feet. Alone with Janelle Flores, Moses snuck a shot past the Bronco keeper from 12 yards to get San Diego State back within one.
It was Moses' third goal of the season and Pruitt's sixth assist.
The Broncos held on down the stretch and improved their all-time record against SDSU to 3-3. Boise State is the only current MW team without a .500-or-better all-time record against the Aztecs.
"It just shows that our program is growing," said Heidemann. "We want to get far in this conference and a game like this builds momentum for us. We're looking forward to the rest of the season to see how far we can go."
Boise State hosts New Mexico Sunday, at 1 p.m. The Lobos (3-5, 1-0 MW) won their conference opener at Utah State Friday.
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