WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue women's soccer's new season features not only the customary influx of new players, but also a new look for the program's home field. The recently-renovated Varsity Soccer Complex now features a variety of new amenities and the Boilers will put their new home complex on display for 13 of their 20 regular-season games this fall.
After graduating an eight-player senior class in 2011, 16 of the 26 players on the 2012 roster are underclassmen. But Purdue does feature some experience among the returning players. The Boilermakers return seven starters, including three that started all 20 games a season ago. Alex Hairston scored six goals and assisted on four others as a freshman. Jordan Frick was a constant on the back row and setup four goals, mostly as a corner kick specialist. Goalkeeper Clara Kridler became the team's first `keeper to start every game since 2008.
Senior Jessica Warren has been selected as the team captain. She has an opportunity to score a goal in each of her four collegiate seasons. Warren and classmate Marta Lynch both demonstrated the ability to be consistent presences on the pitch last season. Warren went the distance in 10 of the 12 games she started, finally seeing her streak of 33 consecutive games started end in late September. After returning from an early-season injury, Lynch was inserted into the starting lineup beginning for the third weekend of Big Ten play. She finished the season as a starting center back, going the distance in seven of the eight games she played.
The 2011 season was a campaign that featured plenty of high points, but also its fair share of frustrations. Purdue battled until the end, but after winning back-to-back games only once all season missed out on qualifying for the eight-team Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 1999. The Tournament was not contested in 2009 and 2010 before returning last year.
High points from 2011 included: a season-opening win against a Toledo team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, a 1-0 victory against Colorado in the first-ever night game at the Varsity Soccer Complex, an eighth straight win against Northwestern on a very windy night on the shores of Lake Michigan, a comeback win against Ohio State in the annual special uniforms game, a program-record eight goals in the rivalry win against Indiana and rebounding from a blowout loss at Wisconsin by defeating Minnesota in St. Paul for the first time since 2005.
But Purdue also got shutout at home three times while only posting three defensive clean-sheet efforts of its own all season. The Boilermakers went to overtime four times over a stretch of seven games in September, but were unable to record a win in any of the extra-time affairs, losing heartbreakers to USC and Kansas on consecutive Sundays. After earning 10 standings points over the course of five games to get back in the Big Ten Tournament chase, the Boilers lost their home finale to a Michigan team they were tied with in the standings entering the day.
Fifteenth-year head coach and program architect Robert Klatte has said he feels the new-look Varsity Soccer Complex is now one of the top soccer facilities in the Big Ten. New locker rooms, team rooms and a pressbox highlight the building behind the team benches on the west side of the field.
He geared the 2012 schedule around the idea of showing off the new complex as often as possible. Even with six of the 11 Big Ten games being on the road this season, Purdue will still play 65 percent of its game at home this fall. Eight of the nine preseason dates will be played at home, the lone exception being an Aug. 24 game at Louisville. However, six of the 13 teams that will visit West Lafayette this fall played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Lights were installed one year before the renovations at the Varsity Soccer Complex. Purdue played five night games at home in 2011. That number will increase to eight this season. The hope is the additional 7 p.m. start times will attract larger crowds and create a more advantageous home-field environment.
In Purdue's two preseason team scrimmages, returnees Taylor Niewoit, Hadley Stuart and Hairston have stood out after scoring multiple goals each. Louisville transfer Jordan Pawlik has experience as a starter at the Division I level and made an impact for the team during the spring season.
The Boilermakers lost two-year starter Mollie Kuramoto to a season-ending knee injury in the spring. She'll redshirt this fall and return to the lineup as a junior in 2013. Meanwhile, Nicole Hively returns from a foot injury that forced the California native to redshirt as a true freshman last fall.
Purdue opens its new season Friday, Aug. 17 against Toledo. It will mark the third year in row the Boilers and Rockets have squared off in a season opener.