The Bronco Goalkeepers...
Goalkeepers have traditionally been a strength of Boise State’s program since its inception in 1998. Like in the past, 2008 should be no different as the goalies are less of an unknown for the Broncos than most of the other positions. This year’s race for the starting role will see three quality keepers battle head-to-head.
The competition features junior Jen Burns the returning starter, and two freshmen challengers in Liz Ruiz and Megan Blanchard. The quality that the three possess is solid and the competition for playing time should make the goalkeeper position a strength once again.
This will be especially important early on with a completely new defensive line. The team may need to rely more on the keepers as the team develops and finds itself defensively in the opening weeks.
The lone returner from 2007 is the starter, Jen Burns. She is a quick and talented keeper in her second active season with the Broncos. Burns initially played her freshman campaign at Seattle Pacific University, where she led the Falcons to the NCAA Division II title match before deciding to return home to play for Boise State.
After redshirting in 2006, Burns earned the starting role during preseason camp the following year. The native of Boise started 15 matches in 2007 accumulating a 7-5-3 record in goal, including four shutouts, while allowing 25 goals for a 1.68 goals against average. In addition, Burns made 64 saves for a 71.9 save percentage during the course of the campaign.
Challenging Burns will be two true freshmen in Megan Blanchard and Liz Ruiz from Boise’s Capital High School. As with all sports, it will take time for the freshmen to adapt to the pace of the college game. However, both are expected to push Burns daily for playing time.
Megan Blanchard comes to Boise State from Fresno, Calif., where she set San Joaquin Memorial High School’s records for saves in a match and season. The four-time all-league honoree once recorded 34 saves in a contest to set not only the school mark but also a regional record as well.
Liz Ruiz hails from the same Boise high school as Burns. While at Capital, Ruiz was a two-time all-conference honoree and the league player of the year as a senior. She recorded an impressive 30 shutouts during her career and set a school record for saves in a season with 169.
One last thought on the keepers...
Overall the race for playing time in the net for Boise State should be interesting to watch. All three have a solid presence in goal and the ability to deny opponents goals, something that will be vital for a team with such a young defense in front of the keeper. Give Burns the edge initially due to her experience in the collegiate game. However, do not be surprised to see the other two on the field at some point.