Purdue at No. 18 Notre Dame (Preseason Exhibition)
Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. ET
Alumni Stadium / South Bend, Indiana
All-Time Regular-Season Series: Tied 1-1
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue women's soccer's first game action of the new campaign comes Wednesday as part of a preseason exhibition at No. 18 Notre Dame.
Kickoff Wednesday at Alumni Stadium in South Bend is slated for 4 p.m. ET. The Boilermakers also visited Notre Dame's campus in March, but the game was played at the UND football team's practice complex located adjacent to the soccer stadium.
All 27 Boilermakers on the active roster will make the trip Wednesday for the first of Purdue's nine road games this season. The Boilermakers (4-12-1 in 2016) have 12 true freshmen on the roster and as many as six could be in the starting lineup Wednesday.
So far the new crop of Boilermakers has helped elevate the level of competition during the first week of preseason training. Injuries took their toll on Purdue last fall. And after bidding adieu to 12 seniors at the semester break, the roster size was smaller than normal in the spring. The elevated competitiveness dovetailing with the return to a traditional roster size have been among the most encouraging early developments for the Purdue coaching staff.
EXCELLENT IN EXHIBITIONS UNDER ROFF
Since Drew Roff was hired as head coach in December 2014, Purdue has compiled a 15-4 record in exhibition games (spring and preseason). However, three of those four losses have come at the hands of Notre Dame. The teams have played in the spring for three consecutive years dating back to March 2015. Roff also challenged his final Illinois State team, which went on to win the Missouri Valley Conference and advance to the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, with a preseason opener in South Bend.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers kick off a six-game homestand by welcoming Iowa State to Folk Field for another preseason exhibition. It will be the first on-campus sporting event of the 2017-18 school year. Playing a pair of opponents from Power Five conferences during the preseason should provide the young Boilermakers an utilitarian look at where improvement is most needed going into the Aug. 18 season opener vs. Kent State, an NCAA Tournament qualifier in 2016.
Purdue has won each of its first four preseason exhibition games under Roff in shutout fashion. Maddy Williams scored five of the team's six preseason goals in 2015, highlighted by a hat trick at Milwaukee. She went on to post a 10-goal month in August 2015 after scoring five more times over team's first four regular-season games. Andrea Petrina scored twice last year in the first game action of the season at Loyola.
MARKS HEADLINES LOCAL CONNECTIONS
As a native of nearby Granger, Indiana, Purdue freshman Lexi Marks knows the South Bend area well. She helped lead Penn High School to the 2016 IHSAA class 2A state title and an undefeated 22-0-1 record as a senior. Notre Dame has two Granger natives on its roster, fellow PHS product Megan McLaughlin and Shannon Hendricks (Marian High School).
FIGHTING IRISH ALWAYS COMPETITIVE
Notre Dame (13-3-5 in 2016) has been to 24 consecutive NCAA Tournaments dating back to 1993, the year the field expanded to 16 teams, winning the national title in 1995, 2004 and 2010. Fourth-year head coach Theresa Romagnolo was hired in March 2014. Purdue defeated Romagnolo's Dartmouth team in a wild 5-3 game at Folk Field in her final season as the leader of the Ivy League side.
Eight of the Fighting Irish's 13 victories last season came in 1-0 fashion. Recording 15 shutouts while surrendering just nine goals in 21 games is certainly an effective way to earn an NCAA Tournament bid, but things did not go as planned in an opening-round game against SIU Edwardsville. The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion kept the game scoreless for 110 minutes and then finished off the upset with a victory in the shootout.
Jennifer Westendorf is back for her sophomore season after leading UND with six goals a year ago. The Fighting Irish will have a new goalkeeper this year. Senior Lexi Nichols began the 2015 season as the starter, but played just 17 minutes a year ago. She's the only keeper on the roster with regular-season experience.