Soccer Season Preview: Broncos Determined To Challenge The WAC...

With 16 upper classmen, 10 starters, and 19 letterwinners returning the Broncos look to challenge for the WAC title in 2006.

Determination is the word this fall for Boise State soccer. Last year, in a wild WAC race the Broncos finished in sixth, one game out of first place in the final league standings. This year Boise State is determined to take care of business as they challenge for that elusive first conference championship.

This season’s squad is the most experienced in the nine year history of the program with 16 upper classmen dominating the roster, six seniors and 10 juniors. In addition, the Broncos return 10 starters and 19 letterwinners from last year’s 10-8-2 squad that has been among the best defensive teams in the league over the past two seasons.

Defense has been one of the strengths of the program in recent years as they have rewritten the school’s record book. Boise State’s defensive back and midfield has limited opponents’ shots on goal to the fewest attempts in history over the last two seasons, while helping the team to a school record 0.96 goals against average in 2004, the top in the WAC that season, followed by a school second best 1.25 GAA last year.

Instrumental in last year’s strong performance defensively was the Broncos’ goalkeeping tandem of Kim Parker and Michaela Morrison, both are back in 2006. The duo combined for five shutouts while turning in goal against averages of 1.30 and 1.16 respectively.

Other key returners on defense are junior Alli Tsuchida who earned All-WAC Second Team recognition last season, senior Molly McDonald and junior Jessica Hobdey who started all 20 matches in 2005.

The midfield returns all four starters from 2005 in seniors Brennan Lau and Nicole Coleman, junior Sophie Parrish, and sophomore Randi Baker. However, Baker split time between the midfield and forward last season and is projected to play up top in 2006. They will all be pushed by two juco transfers, Brittney Dugger and Erin Wofford, who come in with solid scoring credentials.

Boise State’s defense and midfield have plenty of experience and depth once again this year. While those areas have been solid for the Broncos the last couple of seasons, offense has been a bit of a struggle. No Bronco has scored more than six goals in a season the last two years. In addition, the top goal scorer has been a true freshman each of the last two seasons.

Boise State returns nine of their top 10 scorers from last season for the upcoming campaign. Sophomore Randi Baker led the Broncos in scoring last year as a freshman with six goals, followed by midfielder Nicole Coleman with five and forward Kristin Hall who added four. Unfortunately, the Broncos as a team only scored 24 goals in 2005 ranking sixth in the league. In an effort to boost the Broncos scoring punch the coaching staff recruited a talented high school forward in Danielle Schwalbe and the two midfield junior college transfers, Dugger and Wofford, to spark the Bronco attack. However, time will be needed as this group gels and develops into an offensive threat that will challenge the WAC’s leaders.

The 2006 WAC coaches’ poll projected Boise State to finish sixth once again this year. However, look for the Broncos to surprise some people. Offense will be the key to Boise State’s success in 2006 and a return trip to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The midfield and back line will be strong once again, but to challenge for the title the Broncos will need an offensive punch. With 16 upperclassmen and 19 letterwinners back, along with some talented recruits Boise State should have the leadership, experience, and skill to get the job done and prove the poll wrong.

In the next four days a position-by-position preview will be posted: Monday the goalkeepers, Tuesday the defenders, Wednesday the midfielders, and Thursday the forwards.

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