BOISE — Through the first 20 games of her senior season, Raimee Sherle had not recorded a hat trick.
What a time for the leading scorer in Boise State women’s soccer history to notch her first one of the year.
Sherle scored three goals for the Broncos in a 6-0 victory over New Mexico on Thursday in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals to advance to Saturday’s championship game against San Diego State, which beat Fresno State 3-2 in the early semifinal game. The two teams will play at noon at Boas Soccer Complex.
“I think we went out and took it today and we wanted it real bad,” said Sherle, who entered the season with four hat tricks in her career and upped her career goal total to 60. “You could see that how we played on the pitch. That was our mentality going into this game, just taking it one game at a time and hopefully getting to that championship game in front of friends and family.”
Sherle’s hat trick was the third hat trick in Mountain West Tournament history and the first since 2002. It was a big part of a big offensive day which saw the Broncos (17-4-0) score the most goals in a Mountain West Tournament game since BYU scored nine in 2002.
“I don’t think anyone saw that coming, to be honest,” said Boise State coach Jim Thomas said. “In the first round of games, everything went to overtime and I think everyone was happy to see goals in the first (semifinal) game, they’ve been so starved for it. Knowing New Mexico and knowing how talented they are, how well coached they are and how organized they are, it’s just football there in a nutshell. There really wasn’t four goals in the first half for us, but somehow for all the ones that we’ve missed in the past, everything that we touched went into the goal. It was a glorious day for us.”
Boise State took a 4-0 lead into halftime thanks in large part to a three-goal flurry for the Broncos in a span of less than two minutes.
After a few missed Bronco opportunities early in the game, Sherle took an inbounds pass from Lillie French at the 23 minute, 38 second mark, made a move around a couple of defenders and fired it into the net from the top of the goal box with her left foot.
That seemingly opened the floodgates for the Broncos’ offense.
“We had a few opportunities before my first goal, and it was frustrating,” Sherle said. “I think we hit off the post a few times, I missed a wide-open goal. It was really nice to get that one goal, and then everything started rolling.”
Sherle added her second goal less than a minute later, tapping in a pass from Kristina Serres past Vanisi to put the Broncos ahead 2-0. Shortly after that, a shot by Serres bounced off Vanisi and right to Aubree Chatterton, who put it in the net. At the 25:37 mark the Broncos had a 3-0 lead.
“The playmakers and everything was clean and perfect,” said defender Mikayla Schachtell. “It was great to see it, and it makes our job easy in the back to be more calm.”
Freshman Gabby Gillespie came off the bench and made it 4-0 a minute before halftime, receiving a pass from Ashleigh Harrison.
“Especially for the people that are off the bench, it pumps us up a lot,” Gillespie said about the big first half lead. “Once we go into the game we’re amped up to continue the momentum that we have.”
Gillespie, who had one goal coming into the game, added a second one in the 85th minute for the final goal. But before she did that, Sherle added her third of the game.
The senior took a pass at the top of the box in the 55th minute and fired it into the net for her 15th goal of the season.
Boise State goalkeeper Sydney Smith stopped all five shots she faced to extend her school record for shutouts on the season to 12.
“The amount of balls delivered into the box they had to deal with, the amount of saves Syd had to make today, isn’t conducive to a 6-0 win,” Thomas said. “I think that’s why it was such a good performance by us, we were good throughout all the layers and we were good throughout the layers for 90 minutes. New Mexico is really, really good, they’re really, really well prepared and it was everything for us to stay ahead of that. One goal, for me, could have completely changed the momentum of that game.”
Saturday’s game against the Aztecs (10-8-1) marks Boise State’s first trip to the Mountain West Championship game since 2013. With a win, the Broncos advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and second time in program history.
“My record in semifinals is terrible, so they’re finally making me look a little better as a coach,” Thomas said, joking. “All the teams that are in the tournament deserve this. There’s no one that doesn’t deserve to advance, they’ve all had great seasons. I think what matters the most at this point are the people who grab the momentum of the year and grab the moment.”