Creating Our Own Atmosphere: Bronco Soccer

April 11, 2014

The Boise State women's soccer team had a record-filled season last year including best regular-season record in school history, went undefeated against Pac-12 schools and finished as runner-up in the conference tournament, all under first-year head coach Jim Thomas.

Now with a year under their belts, the upperclassmen reflect on their spring season.

"Right now we're focusing on speed and agility and getting fit," said defender Mikhaila Bowden. "We have new players in the middle and we're trying to fine tune our new system of play."

Last spring season, the team was focused on getting to know each other and determining everyone's fitness line. This year, the players feel more comfortable to take the reins of Bronco soccer themselves.

"We're learning to take control of the team ourselves; we're creating our own atmosphere," said Brooke Heidemann. "Not necessarily the coaches determining everything about us, but us also having influences on practice and how practice goes. Whether it's on or off the field, we're learning to be leaders and showing the coaches that we can have control and take responsibility for the team."

"Coach Thomas has given us the opportunity to create our own atmosphere because he's been here for a year now," added Bowden. "He lets us create our style ourselves instead of him being the captain of our ship. We're all the captain of our ship. He's been questioning us a lot about who we are, what our team character is, what motivates us, makes sure that we're all on the same page and we're all motivated by the same things. We learned a lot about everyone and what we truly want."

"Whether it's on or off the field, we're learning to be leaders."

With long-term goals in mind, the team is focused on the process and details to achieve those goals.

"Even though we lost some girls, we're getting in some great players," explained Bowden. "We're trying to make sure we keep going up the ladder. We really started creating something special and we want to make sure we don't digress from last season. This spring is about molding and shaping little things that will make us better."

Boise State finished third in conference play last year with a 6-3-1 record, after being selected to finish fifth in the preseason coaches' poll. Not only did the Blue and Orange finish with the best overall record of 13-7-3 in Bronco history, but Boise State beat Washington and Arizona State and tied Washington State. The Broncos had never previously beaten a Pac-12 school in the twelve-year history of the program.

"Our goal is to improve upon what we built last year," said Heidemann. "We want to go to the championship and win, and to do that we need to play the way we did and improve upon that. We have proven we can compete with Pac-12 teams and those high-caliber kinds of teams. It keeps us motivated and helps us continue to grow."

Mountain West Women's Soccer will be shaken up a little in 2014, as Colorado College joins the conference. This year's conference tournament will look different as well, as the top six teams will make the field, and the top two teams will receive a first-round bye.

"It puts pressure on us to make sure we're amazing from the get go and not gradually getting back to our style in season," said Bowden. "We need to be us, who we are, right from the start of the season."

"I think it's a good motivator for us to get to the top and to stay at the top," added Heidemann. "We don't want to work our way up from the bottom as the underdog."

Right now, the current freshmen through juniors are training in the spring season. The incoming freshmen will join the team in the summer.

"We don't hold anything back when they come on their officials," said Bowden. "We show them who we are and how we play so they know that we're all a family and work hard and push each other. Adjusting from high school club soccer to Boise State soccer isn't going to be hard because the people around you are always helping you out."

"We're a great group of girls who push each other and work hard and we love each other," said Heidemann. "I think the freshmen coming in will help our team tremendously and we will help them adjust and know how we play and know how we represent Boise State soccer."

The Broncos will host their final home spring game on Sunday, April 27 at 3 p.m against Eastern Washington University.

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