With seven victories in its first 12 games, the Boise State women’s soccer team is off to its best start since joining the Mountain West Conference in 2011.
There are six former Idaho high school players on the Broncos’ roster this season.
Those facts are no coincidence.
Since he took over the program in late 2012, Boise State head coach Jim Thomas and his Broncos have seen their success grow in tandem with Idaho’s youth soccer programs.
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In the offseason, Thomas is a coach for the Meridian club program FC Nova, and he and his assistant coaches also help out at the state and regional level with the Olympic Development Program.
The Broncos’ commitment to the overall improvement of youth soccer in Idaho is paying off on the pitch.
Heading into the their home conference game at the Boas Soccer Complex against San Diego State at 1 p.m. Sunday, Idaho products have accounted for 28 of the team’s 42 points. The Broncos (7-4-1, 2-1) beat New Mexico 3-0 on Friday to move into a tie for second place in the Mountain West standings.
“They represent something that they grew up watching, and now they’re representing it themselves. There’s a different kind of pride with that, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to try and get locally born players,” Thomas said. “I think there’s a part where you turn up and your whole family’s in the stands or your best friends, and that raises you a little bit as well.
“But at the same (time), you’ve got to be good enough, and those guys have really passed the test of time. ... We’re in the business of winning matches, and those guys ultimately help us win matches.”
Sophomore forward Raimee Sherle — a graduate of Rocky Mountain High — leads the nation with six game-winning goals this season and has 10 in her career, both are school records. Her game winners this fall have come against Southern Utah, Oklahoma, Portland, Weber State, Fresno State and New Mexico.
I feel like the overall dynamic of our team is completely different than any of the years in the past, and I’ve been here for five years. I am so excited, and I know we’re all so excited. We’re just building up momentum.
Baylee Blaser, Boise State senior soccer player
Sherle also leads the Broncos with six goals and two assists this season, and senior forward Baylee Blaser, a Mountain View graduate, has five goals. Freshman forward Aubree Chatterton, a Bishop Kelly product, has one goal and one assist, and defender Addison Standlee (Rocky Mountain) has one assist.
Junior defender Allegra Weeks, from Timberline, starts on the Broncos’ back line alongside Standlee, and freshman Lili Finch (Boise) is a backup goalkeeper.
All six played club ball for FC Nova.
“I think getting used to any soccer team, it takes time to get to know your players, but it’s such a huge advantage to know how a certain player plays because you’ve played with them for so long,” Sherle said. “I know how (Addison) plays. I know what she’s going to do with the ball, and it’s such a comforting feeling and an advantage, really, because the chemistry’s already there. You don’t have to create it.”
The Broncos rank first in the Mountain West and 49th in the NCAA with a goals-against average of .740. They have five shutouts, and senior goalkeeper Janelle Flores now has 17 in her career, which ties the school record.
One of their goals this season is to win a Mountain West title, Sherle said, and a strong performance Sunday against preseason favorite San Diego State would give them the confidence they need to reach that goal.
“As much as I am forever thankful to have players like the Raimees and Aubrees of the world who win games for you, the squad, the 29 people that are there, have really come together in a way that we haven’t previously,” Thomas said.