MORAGA, Calif. (9/12/08) Saint Mary’s College recorded a last-minute goal to edge Boise State University 1-0 in women’s soccer, handing the Broncos a heartbreaking loss at Moraga, Calif. After Boise State controlled momentum for most of the second half, they were victimized by a quick counter attack down the right flank by the Gaels in the final minute. The loss to Saint Mary’s was the first of two matches for the Broncos at the Saint Mary’s College Fall Soccer Classic. The will play again in the first match Sunday morning when they meet the No. 20 University of California Golden Bears at noon (Mountain Time).
The first half was a slow defensive battle with neither team managing to get a shot past the opponent’s keeper. There were few opportunities for either team in the period but the Broncos had the majority in the first 45-minutes. Boise State’s chances came late in the half with Shannon Saxton and Randi Baker sending shots wide of target. Freshman Ashley Walsh recorded the only shot on goal for either team in the 27th minute but was denied by the Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Tara Larson.
The two teams went into the halftime break knotted in a scoreless draw and the Broncos outshooting the Gaels four-to-one.
The pace picked up in the final 45 minutes with Boise State seizing control of momentum and out playing Saint Mary’s for most of the final period. After a quick Saint Mary’s chance early in the second period, that was denied by Liz Ruiz in goal, the Broncos increased their pressure and force the action into the Gael’s defensive half.
Lindsay Roberts had Boise State’s first solid opportunity when she headed a free kick towards goal only to see the Saint Mary’s keeper deny her in the 60th minute. Six minutes later Brandy Hickcox fired a shot from distance only to see the Gael keeper block the attempt back into the six-yard box where Cheyenne Jones volleyed it just wide of the near post in the 67th minute.
In the 77th minute Ashley Walsh fired a hard-high shot from the right wing that went over the head of the keeper and deflected off the far left edge of the crossbar then back into the field of play. Jones ran onto it volleying the rebound back towards goal only to watch it sailed just wide of the post.
Saint Mary’s did have a few chances of their own in the second period. In the 67th minute Mercede Koning sent a shot towards the Bronco goal from the right side that Boise State’s Liz Ruiz stop by diving and touching it wide. The rebound fell to the Gael’s Tara Farrell who fired a rocket that sailed a foot wide of the right post.
Alex Ciliento fired a shot wide right from 12 yards out in the 84th minute, followed by another shot that sailed high in the 89th minute.
Boise State’s last solid opportunity came in the 88th minute when Kaylea Perenon volleyed a Shannon Saxton pass just over the crossbar from 19 yards out.
That setup the decisive play when Saint Mary’s counter attacked with time running out. Ciliento drove down the right flank then crossed a perfect ball across the mouth of the goal to Ashley Nied who touched it inside the far left post for the match-winning strike with 58 seconds left in the contest. The Gaels’ touch on the play was picture perfect, there was nothing that Ruiz could do in goal to stop the shot for the Broncos.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Boise State who controlled the second half. However, the coaching staff was able to utilize their depth as they played everyone who traveled to California. They were able to start junior Jen Burns at goalkeeper in the opening half, her first action since an injury sidelined two weeks ago. Burns was then subbed out at half in favor of freshman Liz Ruiz, who has played well in Burns’ absence during the three previous matches.
The loss drops Boise State to 3-2-1 overall with a match against California on Sunday. The Golden Bears defeated Cal State Northridge 1-0 in overtime in the first match of the day to improve to 4-1-0.