Oct. 19, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 14 Purdue Boilermakers and No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini fought to a 1-1 tie Sunday afternoon at the Varsity Soccer Complex. The Big Ten rivals, currently vying for the top spot in the conference standings along with Penn State, were locked together for 110 minutes in a emotional nail-biter that featured 33 shots and 16 magnificent saves by goalkeepers Lauren Mason and Leisha Alcia.
The deadlock brought Purdue's record to 9-3-3 and 5-2-2 in the Big Ten. Illinois remains three points ahead of the Boilermakers at 10-3-2 and 6-1-2 in conference.
The story of the game was the work of both starting goalkeepers: Purdue's Mason and Illinois' Alcia. Mason made five saves, two coming in the first overtime, while Alcia intercepted a career-high 11 shots, including four in overtime. The netminders' ability to prevent rebounds, and move in every which direction frustrated both opposing offenses.
Alcia was thought to be lost for the match, after colliding with a Boilermaker in the Illinois goal box early in the game. But after a quick time out, Alcia made it back to her feet and recorded the complete game.
The Purdue offense was in synch for the entire 110 minutes, launching 12 shots on goal. Unfortunately, it caught Alcia on one of her best days. Courtney Coppedge, Meghan Dybvig and Lauren Sesselmann combined for nine shots on goal, but Alcia's agility in the box kept Purdue from breaking onto the scoreboard more than once.
"Our job today was to find a response from the Northwestern game, and as a staff we are very pleased with the effort," said Purdue head coach Rob Klatte. "We won every statistical category we keep track of, and basically controlled the entire match."
For the first time in seven games, it was Purdue who first jumped into the lead. Defender Sharon Pagorek, who played the entire match, headed in the Boilermakers' lone goal off a Jayme-Lee Biamonte corner kick. The goal was the first of Pagorek's career.
"It's about time," said Pagorek. "I had my family and friends here watching, which made the experience even more special. Jayme-Lee sent in a great corner kick, and it was matched with a great header."
Purdue's lead held up for 20 minutes as Tara Hurless struck for the Illini in the 40th minute. Hurless was wide open on the left side of the goal box when she received a cross from Brittany Ward. The crafty Hurless moved towards the center of the goal box and looped it past Mason for her ninth goal of the season. Pagorek flew in from the right side in attempt to make a team save but the ball had already crossed the line.
The teams played scoreless ball throughout the rest of the contest, despite each side receiving numerous scoring opportunities. Illinois' Hurless and Purdue's Annette Kent both did their best to break the tie, as each recorded a match-high five shots.
"We came away from the game on a very positive note," said Klatte. "I am proud of their work ethic, and it was great to see them play like the real team that we are. We will go to the Big Ten tournament on a high."
Before Purdue gets to the tournament in Madison, Wis., it has to play at Indiana next Friday, Oct. 24. Not only will tournament seeding be on the line, but another point in the academic year-long Titan Series between the two schools. Purdue holds a half-point lead over Indiana in the Titan Series after winning the series-opening volleyball match last Friday, by a score of 3-1.
Prior to Sunday's soccer match, nine Purdue seniors were recognized for their hard work over the last four years. Emily Whetter, who suffered a season-ending injury against Evansville, made the start at forward before being substituted for Sesselmann. Whetter received a tremendous ovation from her teammates upon exiting the playing field.
Sesselmann and freshman Rebecca Robison received a significant applause of their own after singing The Star-Spangled Banner.
Purdue's home finale is against Indiana State on Wednesday, Oct. 29, and is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.