It was a must-win game against rival Boise State on Sunday, and the Vandals, who had dropped three games coming into the contest, responded with one of their best games of the year.
“Well the pressure was on: football won and volleyball won this weekend,” Idaho coach Pete Showler joked. “We had to get a clean sweep.”
They did, as Idaho rolled to a 3-1 victory over the Broncos, the team’s first win over Boise State since 2003.
Showler said that team was confident and motivated from the start, and it showed through in their game. With the defense keeping BSU to only five shots on goal, freshman Chelsea Small made sure the Vandals erased their seven-year losing streak and captured the Governors’ Cup.
Small, who had nailed the crossbar in three previous games, was finally rewarded with two goals against BSU and led the Vandals’ scoring attack all game.
“She (Small) works so hard and tirelessly,” Showler said. “She is often not getting the end result, but by her hard work others are benefiting.”
Small’s first goal came in the 58th minute; with the Vandals on a throw in, Small redirected the throw with her head for her 6th goal of the season and gave the Vandals a 2-1 lead.
Later in the second half Small put the game away with a breakaway goal as she took a long pass and beat her defender and the goalkeeper with a shot to the high left corner.
“It feels good to score again,” Small said.
The win didn’t come easy for the Vandals, who had to battle a late game surge from BSU. After a strong first half, the Vandal’s were outplayed for the better part of the second, but the defense held together to deny BSU the go-ahead goal.
“They (BSU) threw everything at us in that second half,” Showler said. “They were quick and physical and a difficult team to beat.”
The rivalry was evident from the first kick at center field, with both beings staging dominance in a physical contest. Each team had a penalty kick, and three BSU players received yellow cards. Idaho played smart soccer and avoided any yellow cards while still maintaining a physical play style.
“We showed a lot of character; we battled everywhere today,” Showler said. “The girls deserved that win; it was a solid team effort.”
The Vandals will have little time to rest, with two away games next weekend. The Vandals will try to build on Sunday’s win when they face off against San Jose State on Friday and Fresno State on Sunday. Both games are on the road.