In one wild mob, Boise State coach Jim Thomas and assistant coaches Ed Moore and Max Weber sprung from their seats on the bench and into the air.
Their exuberance was warranted.
Boise State senior midfielder Emily Curry scored in the 85th minute of the game to stave off upset-minded Air Force 3-2 on Sunday at Boas Soccer Complex. Curry’s second goal of the season sent her coaches and teammates into a frenzy and put the Broncos (16-3-0, 8-2-0) one win away from clinching their second straight Mountain West regular-season title.
“I pulled a hamstring on that one,” Thomas said. “It’s been hard for us to stay ahead of this wave of goals and games and records. I don’t think we’ve gotten swept up in it. I think it builds up in us a little bit, the pressure to continue to carry that weight of now 16 wins — never done before — eight (Mountain West) wins — never done before. You have a forward who’s doing things that have never been done before. It’s a lot for them, to be frank, and then you throw in senior day.”
Curry was among nine Boise State seniors honored before the match, which the Broncos knew they had to win to keep pace with San Diego State for the top spot in the conference standings. The Aztecs shut out San Jose State 3-0 on Sunday and also sit at 8-2-0 in league play. The Broncos own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 2-1 win over the Aztecs on Oct. 11.
“To see young athletes go through that kind of pressure and emotion — senior day, the season, everything on the line — and come through, it gives you the willies, that one,” Thomas said.
With the game tied at 2-2 and time running out, senior forward Kristina Serres found Curry open near the top of the 18-yard box. Curry broke quickly to her left and curled a left-footed shot just inside the top left corner of the goal.
“It was awesome. I’ve been trying to hit those long-range shots all season and finally one went in,” Curry said. “I’m just glad for our team that it went in. We got the win that we needed and we wanted, and we’re just gonna have to push again next weekend.”
Fellow senior Raimee Sherle fittingly helped lead the charge in the final regular-season home game of her career. The Mountain West’s career goals and points leader scored the Broncos’ other two goals against the Falcons. She gave Boise State a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute off an assist from senior midfielder McKenna Kynett, but freshman Lexi Romero answered for Air Force in the 42nd minute for a 1-1 tie at halftime.
Sherle broke through again in the 61st minute for her 12th goal of the season and 57th of her career. The Broncos’ 2-1 lead didn’t last long. Air Force junior forward Jillian Jamero struck in the 67th minute for another deadlock at 2-2.
“What we talked about a lot today, being senior day, the culture we built, we wanted to represent what we built the past four years,” Sherle said. “We wanted to replicate that and show that in how we played today on the field. I think we did that. We were super motivated to show who we are and the culture that we are and we tried to represent it as best as we could on the field.”
The Broncos close out the regular season with a road match at 3 p.m. Friday against Utah State (7-10-1, 2-7-1) in Logan, Utah. A win over the Aggies would assure the Broncos at least a share of a second straight Mountain West title as well as the No. 1 seed for the Mountain West Tournament. Should San Diego State tie or lose to New Mexico, the Broncos would win the title outright. The conference tournament is Nov. 5, 7 and 9 at the Boas Soccer Complex in Boise.
“The main thing that we’re trying to do is stay together, listen to one another, care about one another and try and attend to whatever that listening and caring brings up,” Thomas said. “We know that whatever we do, we’ll stay together as we do it. And come win or come loss, we’ll be together at the end, too.”