Boise State junior Jazel Bowers hadn’t been in the match for more than a few minutes when a momentous opportunity landed at her feet.
Bowers took the cross from teammate Keile Hansen and broke to her left, escaping the New Mexico defender in front of her just enough to launch a shot into the back of the net.
It was the second career goal for Bowers and turned out to be the only one the Broncos needed in a 1-0 victory over New Mexico on Sunday that put the Boise State women’s soccer team alone in first place in the Mountain West Conference.
“It’s not easy for them to emotionally stay attached and sharp to what’s going on when you don’t play a lot,” Boise State coach Jim Thomas said. “When you’re not in every minute, it’s hard, and even harder for the guys that don’t travel and then maybe get the opportunity to play at home.”
Bowers and Hansen both came off the bench for the Broncos, and Hansen, a freshman, only recently began traveling with the team to the Broncos’ away games. Her assist on Bowers’ game-winner in the 75th minute was the first of her Boise State career and a testament to the depth of this year’s team.
“It gives us a lot of diversity. We all play a little different,” Hansen said. “When it’s getting hard to break through a layer, (Coach) can put somebody else in and they can take it and break open all these layers and we can move on from there and continue playing hard.”
The Broncos (13-2-0, 5-1-0) entered the weekend in a three-way tie for first in the conference standings with San Diego State (5-7-1, 4-2-0) and New Mexico (8-5-0, 4-2-0). Boise State took down SDSU 2-1 on Friday — with a game-winning goal that made it on ESPN — and then shut out the Lobos on Sunday for the sweep.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Smith now has a league-leading nine shutouts this season. She made four saves against New Mexico and is one shutout away from tying the single-season program record of 10 set by Tara Fisher last season.
Boise State’s 13 wins match a single-season program record, and the Broncos still have five regular-season matches remaining.
“We’re just now getting into that championship mode where they’re valuing the importance of every day, every minute, every game,” Thomas said. “I don’t think we’re really going to turn back now from this mentality. We’ll see whether this is the highest of the high points or the greatest legacy ever. We’ll see all that stuff by the end.”
The Broncos are on the road next week with games at Wyoming (Oct. 18) and Colorado State (Oct. 20).