WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- With the quarter pole of the season now in the rearview mirror, Purdue women's soccer begins the second half of nonconference play with a home weekend against first-time opponents Dartmouth and Seattle.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Dartmouth and noon Sunday versus Seattle. A residence hall challenge is being held at Friday's game. The residence hall floor with the most attendees will win an exclusive team dinner with the Boilermakers later this year. Fans who present their Purdue-Indiana State football game ticket stub Sunday will receive $1 admission.
Along with the rest of its Ivy League rivals, Dartmouth (13-4 in 2012) opens its season this weekend with games at Purdue and Northwestern. The Boilermakers have never squared off against an Ivy League opponent before. Seattle (2-1) plays at Butler Friday before visiting West Lafayette. The Redhawks are a member of the new-look Western Athletic Conference and were selected as the preseason favorite this fall by the league coaches.
Purdue (2-2) has managed to 12 goals in its first three home games and 13 goals total this year, both totals representing program highs to begin a new season. However, after a season-opening shutout against Akron, the Boilers have also surrendered nine goals in their last three games. That's the most goals Purdue has allowed over a three-game nonconference stretch since the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
Second-year Boilers Makaela Nellams (Everett) and Maggie Stinson (Woodinville) are both natives of suburban Seattle. Purdue assistant coach Erin Otagaki-VanPaemel also has many ties to Seattle as an alumna and former soccer player at the University of Washington. The Redhawks' Rosalie Sittauer (Everett) and Heather Thomas (Woodinville) attended the same high schools as Nellams and Stinson, although Sittauer has yet to see action for SU as a true freshman.
Dartmouth is located in Hanover, N.H., as the northern-most Ivy League school. The Ivy League remains the premier non-scholarship league in the country. The Big Green were a strong team in 2012, outscoring their opponents, 34-13. Dartmouth posted nonconference wins against Central Florida, New Hampshire and Boston University and took a Pepperdine team that was nationally ranked to overtime. But an early October loss at Princeton ended up costing the Big Green a piece of the Ivy League title after Princeton went 7-0 in conference play.
Dartmouth's Chrissy Lozier is back for her senior season after leading the way with eight goals last year. Grosse Point Park, Mich., native Emma Brush (7 goals, 5 assists) also had a strong junior campaign. Senior defender Kelly Brait is from the Chicagoland area (Glenview, Ill.) and started nine times a year ago. They're part of a diverse roster that features players from 13 different states, but none from New Hampshire, as well as one player each from British Columbia, Canada and New Zealand.
Seattle has posted wins against Eastern Washington and Boise State since losing its season opener to Washington State. Stephanie Verdoia led the way with 10 goals last season; she tallied a goal and an assist in the win at EWU. Natasha Howe accounted for the game-winner in the overtime victory against Boise. Brianna Smallidge is back in goal after starting 18 of the 20 games for her team as a freshman in 2012.
The new-look WAC features a women's soccer table that includes Idaho, Utah Valley, Cal State Bakersfield, New Mexico State, Missouri-Kansas City, Grand Canyon and Seattle. Only Idaho, NMSU and Utah Valley were also on the Redhawks' schedule a year ago. This year's WAC schedule features a double round robin format.