WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue women's soccer begins the all-important month of October as well as a three-game Big Ten road stretch with its first trip to Columbus since 2009, taking on Ohio State Sunday afternoon.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium as game two of an Ohio State soccer doubleheader. The OSU men's team will host Michigan State at noon to begin the day's action.
The Boilermakers (7-4-2, 2-2-1 Big Ten) and Buckeyes (7-4-1, 2-2-1 Big Ten) entered the week in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten standings with Michigan State. All Big Ten teams have just one conference game on their schedules this week. Five games into the Big Ten season, No. 4 Penn State (5-0) has quickly risen to the top of the standings and No. 23 Michigan (4-0-1) has also earned points in each of its games. But only four points separate third-place Illinois and the two teams (Minnesota and Nebraska) tied for eighth. The top eight teams in the final standings qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. The tourney host (Indiana this year) no longer receives an automatic bid.
With six of its 11 Big Ten games on road this season, finding a way to earn points away from the Boilermaker Soccer Complex is crucial for Purdue. The overtime win at Nebraska on Sept. 21 not only accomplished that goal, but also gave the Boilers a potential tiebreaker in Big Ten Tournament positioning. But three road points alone most likely will not be enough to earn a tournament berth. A strong showing in its next three games - at Ohio State, at Indiana and at Michigan - would not only greatly aid Purdue's qualifying prospects, but also provide some margin for error going into the final three games of the year (all at home vs. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Penn State).
Ohio State and Indiana have traveled to West Lafayette each of the last two years. Conversely, the Boilers have played at Illinois and Minnesota the last two years. Purdue has seven Ohio natives on its roster, including three from the Columbus area - goalkeepers Clara Kridler and Yana Lyon and midfielder Melissa Casella. Kridler entered the week leading the Big Ten with 56 saves. Casella has gone the distance at her defensive mid position in nine consecutive games since joining the starting lineup in time for the Aug. 31 win against Tennessee-Martin.
The Boilermakers look to extend their scoring streak of nine consecutive games, which also dates back to the UTM win. Purdue may be just 1-3 on the road this season, but it has managed to score at least one goal in first four road dates. In fact, the Boilers have scored eight goals in 391 minutes on the road and 16 goals in 866 minutes at home. So there has not been a noticeable drop off in goal scoring home versus away.
However, Ohio State has been tough at home this year. The Buckeyes are 6-1-1 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, posting shutouts in six of the eight games.
When OSU has scored, it has found a way to win this season. Each of the Buckeyes' four losses have come in shutouts; they also played Wisconsin to a scoreless draw at home Sunday. Ohio State's 14 goals are the second fewest in the Big Ten and only three players have scored this year. However, 14 different OSU players have recorded an assist. Tiffany Cameron has accounted for nine of the 14 goals to rank fourth in the Big Ten.
Purdue won last year's meeting with OSU at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex thanks to a pair of goals scored three minutes and 39 seconds apart in the first half. Jessica Warren scored in the Buckeyes' 2010 win. The last Purdue-OSU game in Columbus was won by the home team in overtime. The Boilers will be in search of their first win at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium since 2007.
With an all-time series tied 9-9-2, Purdue seemingly has matched up most evenly with OSU more than any other Big Ten team. But a closer look at the yearly results shows that the Buckeyes dominated the early years of the series, posting a 7-1-2 mark in the first 10 meetings, and the Boilers are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings dating back to 2005.