Varsity Extra

Brick wall carries Boise girls soccer into 5A state semifinals

Boise High goalkeeper Vail Dark admits she gets bored.

That’s the hazard of guarding the net behind the defense of the Braves’ girls soccer team, which has suffocated opponents all year.

Even after the first round of the 5A state tournament Thursday — a 4-0 victory over Skyline of Idaho Falls — only three goals have hit the back of the Braves’ net this season. One came from an own goal; the other two off free kicks.

That’s forced Dark to get creative to keep her mind in the game, either by talking to the defense or asking it to play the ball back to her.

“I don’t get a lot of action,” Dark said. “I love to have a defense that I can trust that much. I don’t know. I really don’t have to do that much.”

Center backs Olivia Reiten and Julia Lewis and left back Shayla Schoensee have started all season. Rylee Neville, Audrey Dingel and Megan Harvey rotate in on the right side, giving the undefeated Braves (18-0-0) a deep rotation.

Despite bodies coming in and out, Reiten said the back line doesn’t drop off.

“We all trust each other to recover and be there for one and another,” Reiten said. “Communication and trust is the biggest thing.”

The Braves’ defense flexed its muscle Thursday, blanking Skyline for its sixth straight shutout. Boise dominated the possession all game. Each time the Grizzlies (15-2-0) threatened to break through, that defense snuffed it out, limiting Skyline to one shot on goal.

The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s state title game with Centennial (12-3-3) on Friday. The semifinal starts at 2 p.m. at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian.

Boise coach Chris Siegenthaler said his group physically overpowers opponents.

“They’re long and they’re fast enough, and they’re strong enough they don’t give up physical attributes in different places,” Siegenthaler said. “They can compensate for a player that might be faster, but they’re going to be able to make a tackle and they recover really well if they do miss something.”

Boise, which has earned a state trophy every year since the Idaho High School Activities Association started sponsoring the tournament in 2000, has always relied on its defense. This season’s back line has taken it to another level.

“They’re all levelheaded,” Siegenthaler said. “There’s not a lot of drama with our defenders. They almost look disinterested sometimes, but they just want to do their job.”

Like Vail, Boise center forward Johanna Di Lulo admits she catches herself watching the defense in awe. But only for a moment. The ball never stays in Boise’s defensive half for long.

“Our defense is outstanding,” said Di Lulo, who scored a pair of goals Thursday. “That’s the best part of our team. Defense wins the game for us, for sure.”

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