Soccer 2008 forward preview...



The Bronco Forwards...

The forwards will play a key role for the Broncos in 2008. They have solid experience and could be one of the more talented groups on the field. Boise State returns three players from last year’s roster for the new season.

This group is headlined by Shannon Saxton a sophomore from the Portland, Ore., metro area. She led the conference in scoring as a freshman while shattering the Bronco record book on her way to being named the 2007 WAC Freshman of the Year. She enters 2008 as one of two Broncos on the league’s preseason team.

Saxton is joined by junior Dani Schwalbe as the only other forward who played last season. They are joined by redshirt junior Andrea Huerta who transferred from Chico State. The two native Boiseans will give solid experience and depth to the forward slots.

The only newcomer to the group this fall is Washington prep standout Molly Hill.

With only four forwards on the roster they should all see plenty of match time, especially since Boise State wants to push the tempo this season in an effort to take some pressure off the defensive backs. This group with its experience will need to be a major strength of the team this year as the younger players feel out their roles elsewhere on the field.

Who’s Back...

Shannon Saxton is the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year, a first-team 2007 All-WAC and 2008 preseason All-WAC honoree. As a freshman she led the conference and was ranked sixth nationally in scoring at 2.05 points per game. Saxton recorded league highs and school records for points and goals with 39 and 17 respectively, and you might as well throw in a team-high five assists to sum up a truly remarkable debut season. Saxton was the Broncos’ go-to player in crunch time. However, pressure will be on the sophomore to repeat that performance. She enters the year as the front-runner to start at one of the forward positions.

Danielle Schwalbe is the only other Bronco returning who saw significant time at forward in 2007. She is a tough player who does not mind roughing up an opponent on occasion. Schwalbe is a tough athlete who will not back down. However, she has struggled in being consistent offensively on the field. To date she only has five goals and one assist in two seasons. The Broncos will need more out of her in this rebuilding season.

Andrea Huerta transferred to Boise State from Chico State for the 2007 season. The native of Boise redshirted last year but looks to play a major role in 2008. Huerta is now a junior in eligibility after playing two seasons at Chico State, where she recorded three goals and two assists. Look for Huerta to challenge hard for a starting position.

Who’s New...

The only new forward on the roster is true freshman Molly Hill. At 5-9 she is the tallest player on the Boise State roster. Hill was a standout at Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Wash. The two-time all-league honoree recorded 20 goals and 18 assists during her prep career. Though young, Hill should factor into the battle for starting time this season.

One Last Thought at Forward...

Last year Boise State led the conference and ranked 23rd nationally in scoring. A major step forward for a team that had struggled to scored in previous seasons. The Broncos desperately need this group to push up and score often to alleviate pressure on the younger inexperienced players in the back. However, Saxton will have a target on her back this year as teams will try to shut her down. One of the other forwards will need to step up and make a difference to help open up opportunities for Saxton and the rest of the team. Overall, the forwards will be key to the Broncos’ quest of recording their fifth consecutive winning season.