Rocky Mountain senior Raimee Sherle still remains in awe of a pair of high school soccer players she watched growing up — Rocky Mountain graduate Hallie Widner, a sophomore at the University of Montana, and Centennial graduate Sofia Huerta, a pro with the Chicago Red Stars.
But with the records Sherle is setting, she’s developing a following of her own. And a big weekend at the 5A state tournament could vault her into another rare category.
No girl in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference has scored at least 100 goals in her career since 2010, when Mountain View’s Shalese Miller finished with 116 and Huerta capped her four years with 126.
Sherle (pronounced Shirley) has found the back of the net 95 times entering the state tournament, where Rocky Mountain (14-3-0) opens against Lake City (12-0-2) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Meridian High. She said joining a club with players like Huerta and Miller is hard to fathom.
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“That’d be crazy,” Sherle said. “Being with the Sofia Huertas ... gosh, our club idolized her. Rocky soccer, she’s legendary here. Everyone knows about her. That just doesn’t seem possible. It seems weird we’d be in the same thing.”
A five-goal outburst over three games wouldn’t be anything new for the potent 5-foot-2 Montana commit. She owns every offensive record at Rocky Mountain, from goals (95) to assists (59) to points (249) to game-winning goals (36), leaving second place in the dust long ago.
“She has put the scoring records at Rocky Mountain so far out of reach,” Grizzlies coach Donal Kaehler said, “that I can’t even see anybody coming into the program that will come close to one of them, let alone all of them.”
And she’s set all those records while taking more of a playmaking role this season.
Tired of seeing her shadowed around the field, Kaehler opted to push Sherle back from forward into the central midfield. The Grizzlies tried that at times last season, but Kaehler made the move at the start of the season, thinking the stress of assigning a defender to follow around a midfielder would dissuade opponents.
No dice. Sherle said she faced a dedicated defender in about half of her games this season.
That attention increases to two, sometimes three, defenders when she charges for goal. And she’s notched 12 assists this fall because of it.
“Some of the assists that she’s made, I could have been on the field and I could have put the goals away,” Kaehler said.
Sherle’s stats took a dip in her senior year to 22 goals and 18 assists entering state, down from 34 goals and 22 assists at the end of last season. That’s partly because of the new role in the midfield, but it’s largely due to her desire to win state. Kaehler said he’s had to get on her about drifting too far back into the defensive zone to win balls.
“She’s been pulling our formation out of shape because she wants to win so badly that she is willing to give up goal scoring and all that other stuff to make sure that we win,” Kaehler said.
Wherever Sherle lines up, Boise coach Chris Siegenthaler said she makes it all look easy. He compared her to Miller in that a defense can smother her for 79 minutes, but if it forgets her for one second, she’ll pounce.
“She’s just smooth,” Siegenthaler said. “Everything she does, it just comes naturally to her.
“If the ball is coming to her, she doesn’t have to move or change her body to receive a certain service. She just takes it down however it needs to be taken down. One-footed, inside, outside both legs, she does what needs to be done. She doesn’t have to think about it.”
Sherle remains flattered to even be mentioned in the same breath as Huerta and Miller. But a state title is her only focus this weekend. She wouldn’t even entertain the question of if she’d rather finish her high school career with 100 goals or her first state title.
“Oh, winning state,” she said. “Winning state, no matter what. That’d be a dream come true.”