BOISE — After a down year, the Boise High girls soccer team has returned to a familiar place: Reigning over the 5A District III.

The Braves topped Rocky Mountain 2-0 on Wednesday in the district championship game for their first title since 2015. The title comes after the Braves missed the 5A state tournament last year, the first time Boise had missed state since before the Idaho High School Activities Association first sponsored soccer state tournaments in 2000.

“It reminds me how much I missed it last year.” Boise coach Chris Siegenthaler said

Boise (16-3-0) opens state play at 11 a.m. next Thursday in Idaho Falls.

The Braves will play the winner of Saturday’s play-in game between Coeur d’Alene and Borah in their first round match.

“We put in the work and deserve to go to state,” said junior Payton Baratcart, who scored a goal in the victory. “I’m proud of all of us.”

Boise kept the pressure on Rocky Mountain goalkeeper Kasey Wardle, playing a good chunk of the game in front of the Grizzlies’ net.

Sophomore Kendra McDaniel got Boise on the board in the 11th minute, putting a free kick past Wardle to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Baratcart extended the lead in the 24th minute, placing a shot in the top of the net and giving the Braves a 2-0 lead midway through the first half.

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Boise continued putting pressure on with an Audrey Sand shot going just over the net and Mariah Albin getting a pair of good looks in front of the net in the second half, but both times placing the shot over the cross bar.

But the Braves were not set back by those misses as the defense kept the ball away from goalkeeper Bre Norris, who stopped all three shots she faced.

Boise cruised to the district title, winning for the 11th time in its past 12 games.

“I think this year we were determined, we wanted it,” said senior defender Lilly Gwin.

Boise hasn’t won a state title since 2013, and while the Braves now have seven district titles and six state titles in this century, Boise has only won both in the same season once during that time span — in 2002.

But in their last trip to state, in 2016, the Braves went two and out. So Siegenthaler said his team isn’t going to Idaho Falls with a state title on its mind. Right now, he said, the goal is to just win that first game on Thursday.

“We’re not going to make big grandiose promises because we know we got to do the little things,” the coach said. “We haven’t done it with this group before, so that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Rocky Mountain (12-3-2) will also begin state play next Thursday. The Grizzlies will open against the winner of today’s 5A District V-VI runner-up game between Highland and Thunder Ridge.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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