WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As the first team of the 2013-14 school year to kick off its regular season, Purdue women's soccer welcomes Akron, North Dakota and Xavier to campus this weekend for the 13th edition of the Boilermaker Challenge Cup.
The four-game tournament gets underway Friday at 4 p.m. with North Dakota taking on Xavier. Purdue plays Akron Friday at 7 p.m. and Xavier Sunday at 2 p.m. Offensive and Defensive MVPs as well an All-Tournament Team will be announced after action is completed Sunday.
Purdue athletics is set to host a complimentary ice cream social in the parking lot of the Boilermaker Soccer Complex prior to Friday's season opener. The players will sign autographs after Sunday's match.
The Boilermaker Challenge Cup is serving as a season-opening event for the seventh time, but first since 2007. Purdue has won the four-team tournament six times, the last team title coming in 2009. After the event was held for 11 straight years from 1999 through 2009, it has been part of the Boilers' schedule in only one (2011) of the last three seasons.
Purdue has compiled a 16-5-3 record all-time at the Boilermaker Challenge Cup. Chinyelu Asher and Jordan Frick both scored their first collegiate goals in a draw with Cal State Northridge at the 2011 event, which was the first to feature a night game.
The Boilermakers are 9-5-1 all-time in season openers, including 7-3-1 at home. After playing Ohio in the 2009 opener and Toledo in the first game of the last three seasons, this will mark the fifth year in a row Purdue has kicked off against a Mid-American Conference team. Akron is also the first of five first-time opponents on the Boilers' 2013 nonconference schedule.
The head coaches at both Akron and Xavier have strong ties to the state of Indiana. Akron's Vernon Croft started the women's soccer program at Indiana State and was the head coach in Terre Haute until 2008. Xavier's Woody Sherwood served as the head coach at Butler for seven seasons and also spent three years as an assistant coach at Indiana University.
North Dakota (2-13-1 in 2012) was a Division II power for many years, winning seven national championships. The university began its transition to the Division I level in 2008. The women's soccer program competes in the Big Sky Conference.
The Last Meeting
September 5, 2007
West Lafayette, Ind.
X Marks The Spot
Purdue came out of the gates quickly, scoring twice in the first 24 minutes, and went on to defeat Xavier 4-1 Wednesday night at the Varsity Soccer Complex.
Purdue's Alex Hairston has accounted for the game-winning goal in each of the last two season openers, the first player in program history to accomplish the feat. She's also the first player to score in the first game of consecutive seasons since Annette Kent did so in four straight from 2000-03.
A year ago, Hairston and Hadley Stuart scored 48 seconds apart early in the second half in the win against Toledo. Remarkably, that stood as a program record for the shortest amount of time between goals for only a week after Jordan Pawlik found the back of the net 45 seconds apart at Louisville. The previous record entering the 2012 campaign had stood since November 2007.
An eight-game losing streak that included an 0-7 start to MAC play doomed Akron's 2012 campaign. But the Zips (6-11-1 in 2012) finished the year strong, going 2-1-1 in their last four games - the loss coming in double overtime. Akron lost its top goal scorer (Ashley Hughes, 8) to graduation but returns Kelly Denior (5 goals, 4 assists) and both goalkeepers that started games last season. Amber Kern, Melissa Casella's former teammate at Dublin Coffman High School in suburban Columbus, started all 18 games last year. The Zips lost their lone preseason exhibition game, 2-1 at Duquesne.
Xavier (6-12-1 in 2012) is set for its first season in the new-look Big East Conference. Like Purdue, the Musketeers finished the 2012 season mired in a lengthy losing skid. Scoring was an issue for XU a year ago, registering only 14 goals in its 19 games, and the team was shutout seven times during an eight-game losing streak to end the season. Starting goalkeeper Katie Markesbery is back for her junior season. Mariah Whitaker has also returned after leading the way with three goals and three assists. She is one five Indianapolis-area natives on the roster. Xavier lost preseason exhibition games at 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Notre Dame (5-1) and Miami University (3-0).