1-0 Win Sends Broncos to MW Tournament
Oct. 31, 2014
BRONCO WOMEN'S SOCCER
BOISE, Idaho-- Boise State women's soccer defeated Utah State 1-0, Friday, to complete its improbable late-season run and earn a spot in the Mountain West Championship. The Broncos (9-8-3, 6-5-0) won the final four matches of the regular season to claim the sixth and final spot in the tournament.
"We're getting good at this," said head coach Jim Thomas. "We were a little dodgy at the start, found a way and all of a sudden the season is starting to become what we were expecting. The resiliency you've seen and this run we've had of late has been marked by our young players following the great example set by our two seniors set."
On a day the Broncos recognized their two seniors- Mikhaila Bowden and Shannon Schueren- playing in their final home game, it was one of those young players who made the deciding play. Freshman Dani Brown scored in the 68th minute on an assist from Kayla Tucker. The goal is Brown's third of the year, all of which have been game-winning goals and all have come in conference play. The school record for game-winning goals in a season is four, accomplished five times.
"Bad, bad Dani Brown! She's going to have a remake of that song if she keeps this up," said Thomas, referring to Jim Croce's 1972 song `Bad Bad Leroy Brown'. "She's around the goal a lot, but today she was great in build-up play and running things. Dani is adding little things to her game and we're figuring out how to use her a little better."
Tucker won a 50-50 ball near midfield, raced past one defender and took on another. Brown made a run to Tucker's right as the Bronco duo flanked the 18-yard box. When the last defender committed to Tucker, she slipped a pass across the top of the box. Brown took one touch inside to beat the defender trying to recover, lined up a left-footed strike and shot from 15 yards to the left post. Utah State goalkeeper Jeannie Woller got her outstretched hand to it, but the ball hopped up and spun into the back of the net.
"Tucker's engine never stops running," said Thomas. "It's unbelievable what she's capable of. The toughest thing to do is figuring out where to play her. She's a little bit of a chameleon in how she senses where she can be most successful in different games, but there's never a question of whether she's going to be effective, dangerous or work hard; and that's just the attacking stuff. The stuff she does in defense as a forward is remarkable. There are very few people who work that hard in that part of the field and still have the impact she does in the attack."
Tucker has a team-high five assists, the most in a season at Boise State since 2010, and tied for sixth most all-time. The redshirt sophomore has scored four points in the last two matches and four of her five assists have come in conference games.
Despite being outshot 13-10, Boise State recorded its fourth-straight shutout and has not allowed a goal in 411:25 of game action. The Aggies (10-7-2, 6-4-1 MW) took six shots in the first half and put four on goal. They also had four corner kicks in the first half, but Boise State withstood the pressure and kept the score 0-0 headed in to halftime. In the second half Utah State mounted a late surge with a number of free kicks in its attacking third of the field. The Aggies did not manage to put any of their seven second-half shots on target, though.
Boise State goalkeeper Janelle Flores made four saves for the sixth shutout of her freshman year. Defenders Mikhaila Bowden, Jessie Vogel, KT Clayton and Sierra Carrington stonewalled numerous Utah State runs before they amounted to shots. Jenna Clubb also came on in defense as a reserve and did not skip a beat. Freshmen Carrington and Clubb were called upon to step up in the absence of Hailey DeVries, who the Broncos hope to have back for the tournament. Boise State took seven shots in the first half and three in the second half. The Broncos took their first shot just 21 seconds in to the match. Boise State had four looks at the goal in the first 14:09, including three in the first 7:26.
In addition to her assist, Tucker took three shots in the game, including putting one on target in the first half. Schueren had a team-high four shot attempts, while Brown, Brooke Heidemann and Sarah Taylor each took one. Taylor's shot, a 35-yard blast, put a gasp in the crowd as it arced for the crossbar before Wollner punched it over the goal. Taylor, who started her fifth-straight match in the midfield, also made an impact as a distributor and defender.
"She's starting to believe in herself a little bit more," said Thomas. "It was a little rushed at times, but she's hanging in with plays now. She does it with the most positive approach to the game. Those minutes she ground through where we needed her against New Mexico and San Diego State, she earned her lumps. She's another one of those kids that is really benefiting from a lot of experience. Now we get an opportunity to extend this season as long as possible and keep getting these underclassmen some minutes."
Boise State will be the sixth seed in the conference tournament and face either Colorado College or New Mexico. The Tigers currently hold the third seed after defeating Air Force Friday, but the Lobos will reclaim that spot Friday night, if they beat San Diego State. The Broncos' first match of the Tournament will be Tuesday, in San Diego. Wyoming has clinched the No. 2 seed and will await the winner of Boise State's first-round match. Boise State lost to all three opponents in the regular season. The Broncos' 1-0 loss at New Mexico (Oct. 17) is their last defeat and also the last goal they have allowed.
"Whoever we see will be a team who played against a different version of us," said Thomas. "We're becoming a new team as we go through this. If I would choose anybody to play in a conference tournament, I wouldn't want to play the team that is rattling off wins and finding ways to win. Those teams are tough to play and that's us right now."
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