ROSEMONT, Ill. - Team captains Vanessa Korolas, Andrea Petrina and Maddy Williams of Purdue women's soccer have been highlighted among the Big Ten's preseason honors list announced Monday by the conference office.
Purdue and Penn State were the only schools in the league to have three seniors among their preseason honorees this year. Korolas, Petrina and Williams have started a combined 143 games during their college careers as the Boilermakers' most experienced players at defender, midfielder and forward. They will share the captaincy this fall with goalkeeper Erika Yohn. The quartet helped lead Purdue to preseason wins vs. No. 18 Notre Dame (13-3-5 in 2016) and Iowa State (10-8-1) last week.
This marks at least the second time during their careers that Korolas and Williams were part of the league's preseason honors list.
Korolas has started all 54 games since the start of 2014. She was the only Boilermaker to see action at defender, midfielder and forward last season, as Purdue encouraged the 5-foot-10 Canadian to use her versatility in different ways on the pitch. She scored her first two collegiate goals, both in Big Ten play, and finished second on the team in minutes (1,346). All five of her career assists have set up game-winning goals. Korolas will start the season at outside back, where she has seen most of her playing as a Boilermaker.
Williams has also made 54 starts during her career. Sidelined by a knee injury last year, her return to the lineup this fall has already provided Purdue with a boost offensively. She recorded two goals on a team-high 12 shots and an assist in the two preseason wins last week. Williams led the Boilermakers in goals, assists and points each of her first three seasons, becoming the first Purdue player to accomplish the feat three years in a row. Her 24 career goals rank fifth in program history and she has assisted on 18 other scores, recording six assists each season.
Petrina is the Boilermakers' most skilled playmaker in the midfielder, handling the majority of the team's set pieces and corner kicks. With Williams sidelined last year, she wound up as the team leader with four goals, four assists and 66 shots while playing over 1,000 minutes for the first time. For her career, Petrina has played in 51 of the 54 games since the start of 2014, making 35 starts while contributing to 13 goals (7 scored, 6 assisted).
Each coaching staff around the Big Ten selected three of its own players for the preseason honors list, leading to a group of 42 highlighted student-athletes from around the 14-team league. Women's soccer is the first intercollegiate sport of the 2017-18 school year to open its regular season around the country, kicking off Friday. Kent State (Friday) and Loyola Marymount (Aug. 21) make their first appearances at Folk Field this weekend as the Boilermakers' six-game homestand continues.
With six freshmen in the starting lineup for both preseason wins and 12 newcomers on the roster total, Purdue is striving to find a complimentary mix of youth and experience. The season-opening homestand gives the Boilermakers a long stretch at a familiar, well-kept pitch to work towards becoming a cohesive side in time for a five-game road stretch in September. Including preseason exhibition games, Purdue is 11-8-2 at Folk Field since Drew Roff became head coach in December 2014.
Perennial league favorite Penn State was again tabbed the team to beat in the Big Ten's preseason poll. The Nittany Lions shared the regular-season title with Northwestern and Minnesota last year. Oddly, PSU was not ranked among the United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) national preseason poll this year. However, four Big Ten teams -- No. 19 Minnesota, No. 21 Rutgers, No. 22 Nebraska and No. 23 Northwestern -- did make the top-25 list. The conference had eight teams qualify for the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten also unveiled the new @B1Gsoccer Twitter account Monday. It will cover both men's and women's soccer around the conference.
The Big Ten season kicks off the weekend of Sept. 14 to 17 with Purdue playing at Michigan and Michigan State on the same road trip for the first time since October 2013. The Boilermakers' Big Ten home opener is Thursday, Sept. 28 vs. Illinois.