WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Taylor Niewoit scored a timely game-winning goal for the second Friday in a row, propelling Purdue women's soccer to its ninth consecutive victory against Northwestern, 1-0, at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex.
Purdue (7-4-1, 2-2-0 Big Ten) won in shutout fashion for the fifth time in its seven home games this season. But it was the Boilers' first shutout of a Big Ten opponent since also beating the Wildcats 1-0 in West Lafayette in September 2010.
Niewoit scored her fourth goal of the season in the 80th minute. Three of those four goals have proven to be game-winners. She fired a rising blast into the top left 90 of the net from about 25 yards out in the center of the field. Alex Hairston connected a left-to-right center pass to Niewoit on the move for her Big Ten-leading eighth assist of the season.
Purdue scored for an eight consecutive game, but Friday's final marked the team's first 1-0 win of the season. The nine-game win streak against Northwestern (4-6-2, 0-4-0 Big Ten) dates back to 2005 and ranks as the longest against any opponent in the history of the program.
The Boilermakers welcomed Jessica Warren and Emma Lancaster back to the starting lineup Friday after both players had missed each of the first three Big Ten games of the season due to injury. Warren and Niewoit were among the six Purdue field players that went the distance. Head coach Robert Klatte praised Warren's tenacity defensively afterwards, highlighting his senior captain for her presence in the final 10 minutes as the Boilers closed out the win.
The second half featured a 10-minute stretch in which both teams had three corner kick chances and each goalkeeper made a nice save. The best save of the night came from Northwestern's Anna Cassell on a rising blast off the foot of Makaela Nellams that turned out to be the same type of shot that Niewoit later scored on. Nellams unleashed an impressive shot from the left flank in the 68th minute that was bound for the top left 90 of the net. But Cassell was able to deflect the ball over the top of the crossbar at the last moment to keep the game scoreless. Hadley Stuart's header was wide right on the ensuing corner kick, which was the last of the six corners in 10 minutes.
Purdue's Clara Kridler made a diving save to her left near the right post on a shot by Kiltie Finsand in the 64th minute after the third of the Wildcats' three corners. Kridler was also in position to make a quality 1-v-1 save against Kate Allen in the 29th minute after Northwestern's leading goal scorer had broken through the Boilers' back row with the ball on the right side of the 18-yard box.
Cassell's save above her head at the right post on Hairston's shot in the 21st minute as well as a sprawling stop of a shot by Warren after a Purdue corner in the 31st minute were also quality defensive plays.
The first shot of the game saw Hairston hit the left post with a ground shot from the right side of the 18-yard box in the sixth minute.
Melissa Casella, Kim Love, Hairston and Stuart also went the distance among the Purdue field players. Chinyelu Asher logged 42 minutes to lead the reserves. Tayler Francel, Jordan Frick, Nellams and Love, as well as Casella at her defensive midfielder position, teamed up with Warren and Kridler to help the Boilers post the shutout win.
Purdue returns to action Sunday when it hosts Illinois at 1 p.m.