WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Off to a 2-0 start for the fourth time in program history, Purdue women's soccer faces a tough test for its lone nonconference game of the regular season, taking on defending Big East Conference National Division winner Louisville Friday evening.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Cardinal Park. Friday's meeting will be the third in series history. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Louisville in 2008 and the Cardinals were a 1-0 winner in West Lafayette a year earlier.
The Boilermakers are idle on Sunday before opening a busy stretch next week, which features three games in five days. Purdue hosts Butler Wednesday, Aug. 29, in the opener of a six-game homestand at the Varsity Soccer Complex.
Louisville (1-0) defeated Butler, 2-0, in the season opener for both teams Friday in Indianapolis. The Cardinals are currently without two of their top players. Christine Exeter and Rachel Melhado are in Japan playing for Team Canada at the U-20 World Cup. Exeter scored 14 goals last season en route to winning Big East Player of the Year honors. Melhado started every game at defender and helped U of L post nine shutouts.
Louisville is currently receiving votes in the NSCAA Top 25 coaches' poll. The Cardinals represent the second of five opponents on the nonconference portion of Purdue's schedule that qualified for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Even with U of L missing two of its top players, a positive result on the road against one of the favorites in the Big East would be a welcome addition to the Boilers' 2012 résumé. The win against Toledo last weekend represented Purdue's first quality victory of the season. Upcoming games against Milwaukee and West Virginia will be similar opportunities for résumé-enhancing results.
Newcomer Jordan Pawlik is quite familiar with Cardinal Park and the Louisville program. The Fort Wayne native played her first two collegiate seasons at U of L before transferring to Purdue for the 2012 spring semester. The junior started 35 games over two seasons for the Cardinals, and she was in the starting lineup for Purdue during the season-opening weekend. Pawlik made an immediate impact in the opening-night win against Toledo, assisting on the goals scored by Alex Hairston and Hadley Stuart a program-record 48 seconds apart.
Exeter accounted for 14 of Louisville's 34 goals last season. Angelika Uremovich ranked second with four goals and scored the game-winner early in the second half in the 2012 season opener at Butler. Starting goalkeeper Chloe Kiefer and Big East All-Freshman Team honoree Erin Yenney are also back from the Cardinals' 2011 Big East National Division winner.
Meanwhile, Hairston accomplished a pair of firsts during the season-opening weekend. She became the first player in program history to score the game-winning goal in the first game of back-to-back years, as well as the first player to account for Purdue's first two game-winning goals in consecutive seasons. Friday she'll have a chance to become the first Boiler to score a game-winner in three straight games to begin a year.
Each of the three previous Purdue teams (2000, 2004 and 2009) to open the season 2-0 went on to win at least 10 games. Coincidentally, Louisville was one of only two teams to defeat the Boilers during their program-record 20-win season of 2007. The `07 team was 0-1-1 after losing to the Cardinals in the second game of the year.