STANFORD — Jaye Boissiere will graduate in the spring with a degree in political science and a minor in economics.

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In academic terms, the 21-year-old is a senior at Stanford. But when it comes to her women's soccer career on The Farm, she's chosen a different term.

"I call myself a froshmore -- like half freshman, half sophomore," said Boissiere, who technically is a redshirt sophomore when it comes to athletics.

It's been an arduous journey on the pitch for the 5-foot-2 attacking midfielder, who in her fourth year with the top-ranked Cardinal (19-1-0) is enjoying a breakthrough season as the NCAA Tournament gets underway.

"It's crazy to think that even if you go all the way, in three weeks that's it," Boissiere said on Monday. "And that's insane because we've put in an absurd amount of work. The minute last season ended, we were out there one day, two days, three days later, everyone touching the ball. We were like, 'OK, we're not letting this happen again.'"

She's referring to a stunning 1-0 loss in double overtime to Santa Clara a year ago in the second round of the postseason.

Boissiere could only watch, a reluctant spectator. For a third year in a row, she was betrayed by her body.

"I think at some point you're injured for so long it's not really like this pent-up frustration, it's more like disappointment," she said.

Boissiere didn't grow up too far away, with her family in Los Altos Hills.

She attended nearby Menlo School in Atherton and as a sophomore tabbed Stanford as her college of choice.

"You verbally commit to a school pretty early on now and I knew that I wanted soccer to play a pretty significant role, which eliminated a lot of the other really strong academic schools but not necessarily great soccer programs," Boissiere said.

She added: "Something that is really special about Stanford is you have people walking around who are incredibly accomplished and you don't know that about them. They don't act as if they're better than anyone or that they are entitled to something, which I think is unique. Usually you have to end up googling them."

Up until this fall, any Google search of Boissiere revealed accolades such as a championship at Menlo as a sophomore in 2012. Due to a combination of injuries and desire to train with her club coach at the MVLA Lightning, she only spent one winter on her high school team.

At the club level, Boissiere celebrated a national title in 2010 and reached another final two years later.

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She was expected to make an immediate impact at Stanford, coming off the bench as a true freshman in the season opener at North Carolina. Boissiere never played another game that fall after suffering a torn meniscus in the game.

Slow to recover from the knee injury, she got hurt again and began to show "clear signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, like bone density issues and things like that," Boissiere said. "I saw a lot of specialists and it took a lot of time to figure out what was happening, but the team of doctors here worked really hard to figure out that one out, so I'm really grateful for that.

"Finally being able to put the puzzle pieces together was really nice."

Forced to sit out her entire sophomore year, Boissiere was eventually diagnosed with small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which accounted for the nutritional deficiencies that left her vulnerable to injuries.

Suddenly, recovery and fatigue issues that plagued her for the previous decade, along with stomach issues, could be explained.

Boissiere was cleared on the first day of the preseason a year ago and played in nine games while she was eased back into action in limited duty.

"And then the first time we sort of upped that volume in a game I reinjured myself the next day and then I was done for the season," she said.

It seemed as if she couldn't catch a break.

"I knew how much she loved soccer and I think it was really hurting her inside and emotionally that she couldn't do what she loved to do, which was playing," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "So I think it was a hard journey for her and now I think she's cherishing it even more because she's able to express herself on the field and do what she loves to do -- and she's crushing it."

Healthier than ever with plenty of energy, strength and stamina, Boissiere is third on team in points with seven goals and nine assists.

"Everything is -- knock on wood -- relatively pieced together right now, which is sort of a new experience for me," Boissiere said.

In Saturday's 9-1 rout of Utah Valley during the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, she tallied a goal and an assist.

"I'd much rather assist than score, mainly because I'm a midfielder," Boissiere said. "But more than goals, assists, whatever, it's just being out there on the field with everyone is quite wonderful."

"She's tough, she wins tackles, she's courageous and she covers a lot of ground, so she's been exceptional," Ratcliffe said.

Her highlight-reel 30-yard strike into the top-left corner of the cage in the 28th minute over the weekend was part of a record-breaking performance for the Cardinal, with its previously most lopsided effort in the postseason a 7-0 romp of Sacramento State in 2007.

With two goals on Friday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium against Auburn (8-6-5) in the second round, Stanford will break a program record of 80 goals in a single season set in 2009.

"It's hard to say that any year is any more or less special," Boissiere said. "I mean, each team is just different and has its own qualities and its own traits. I think something that maybe stands out about this year is that we have a lot of raw scoring power up front."

"I think we have a lot of weapons and they're very unselfish sharing the ball and finding the right players to score goals," Ratcliffe said. "So, yeah, it's one of the most potent teams I've ever coached."

That includes Boissiere, whose parents can finally watch their daughter realize her potential on The Farm.

Expect them in the stands on Friday, and possibly Sunday for a third-round matchup against the winner of Florida State-Arizona.

"I live super close, so it would be sort of embarrassing if they were like, 'Nah, we don't really want to come,' " Boissiere said. "I also think that maybe the fact that I didn't play for three years makes them more excited to see me play than they would have been normally. I'm sure at some point they got tired of watching so many soccer games, but I gave them a few years' break and then they're back -- although they came to all the home games anyways, even when I was injured. They just like supporting the team."

If all goes according to plan, her parents can book a flight in two weeks for the College Cup in Orlando, Florida.

It's been six years since Stanford claimed its only NCAA title in women's soccer, much to the chagrin of Boissiere and her teammates.

"I mean, we want it, that's why we talk about it," Boissiere said. "That's the reason we're playing, right? I think that's every team's goal is they want to win a national championship." 

This article is written by Vytas Mazeika from Palo Alto Daily News, Calif. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.