Soccer 2008 season preview...

New Look Broncos search for fifth consecutive winning season in 2008...

Boise State enters the new season coming off one of its best campaigns to date. The 2007 squad went 9-7-3 overall completing its fourth consecutive winning season. In addition, the Broncos finished tied for second in the Western Athletic Conference race with a 5-1-1 mark and advanced to their third consecutive conference tournament.

However, 2008 could be a different story as the Broncos search for their fifth consecutive winning season. This year’s team has plenty of questions, but also has cautious optimism for a successful season. Gone from 2007’s squad are 11 seniors, six of them starters, and four other letterwinners. In that group was the entire defensive back line and two All-WAC performers in midfielders Erin Wofford and Brittney Dugger. Boise State returns only seven players who saw action in 2007.

Fortunately, returning for the Broncos is the WAC’s leading scorer, sophomore Shannon Saxton. The Beaverton, Ore., native led the conference as a freshman with 39 points on 17 goals and five assists. Another offensive positive: of Boise State’s seven returning players, they all ranked among the top 10 scorers on the team.

Saxton is just one of five starters back to anchor this season’s team as the Broncos prepare for their eighth season in the WAC and 11th overall. Randi Baker, senior midfielder, Cheyenne Jones, sophomore midfielder, Kaylea Perenon, junior midfielder, and Jen Burns, junior goalkeeper, join Saxton as returning starters. This group is a solid foundation to provide leadership this time around. In fact, Saxton and Baker had impressive enough performances last year that both where recognized on the WAC’s 2008 preseason team this August.

In addition to the five returning starters, Boise State also returns two key contributors in Dani Schwalbe, a junior forward ranked sixth on the team in scoring last year, and Emma Boyack, a junior who ranked eighth in scoring while playing up front but who has since been moved into a midfielder’s role for the 2008 campaign.

Joining this core group of seven are five others who either redshirted in 2007 or joined the team for the spring semester. Andrea Huerta, junior forward, Jayne Murray, freshman midfielder, and Lauren Acker, freshman defender, all redshirted for the Broncos last fall. They were joined in the spring by transfers Katie Derden, a senior midfielder, and Malia Hendrix, a sophomore forward turned defender. All five looked solid during spring scrimmages and are expected to be impact players this fall.

Replacing 11 seniors is not always an easy thing to do, unless of course you do it with a class of 13 talented freshmen and three transfers. The incoming class is considered by the coaching staff to be the best group ever to commit to Boise State. This group of newcomers possesses speed, strength, a high skill level, and come from areas that are rich in soccer tradition and experience. Hopefully, this all adds up to everything the program needs as it begins to fill the holes left by the departed class of seniors.

Returning only seven players that saw action the previous season would give any coach an eerie feeling of uncertainty. When you throw in 19 other players with limited or no college experience, including 13 true freshmen, that uncertainty is bound to increase considerably. The unknown is the early story for this team as questions abound: Can these many new and unfamiliar faces gel to form a cohesive team? Who is going to start in the defensive back line? How will this team handle pressure in crunch time? Just to name a few.

In the following days a position by position breakdown of the 2008 Broncos will be posted...

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