WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue women's soccer closes out the road portion of its regular-season schedule with trips to Indiana and No. 21 Michigan this week, taking the Golden Boot traveling trophy to Bloomington for a BTN-televised match with the Hoosiers Thursday night.
The Boilermakers (7-5-2, 2-3-1 Big Ten) make their first appearance in Bloomington since 2009 for the 8 p.m. kickoff at Bill Armstrong Soccer Stadium Thursday. Sunday's game against the Wolverines is set for 2 p.m. at the U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Ezurike's Hat Trick Spoils Purdue's Senior Day
Kellie Phillips scored for the sixth time in the last five games, but Michigan's Nkem Ezurike had already accounted for a hat trick, spoiling Purdue women's soccer's senior day, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at the Varsity Soccer Complex.
Purdue puts its 15-match unbeaten streak (12-0-3) against IU on the line Thursday. Indiana (6-7-1, 1-5-0 Big Ten) would need to end that streak with a victory to take possession of the Golden Boot traveling trophy for the first time. In the event of a draw, which the two rivals played to in Bloomington in 2005 and 2008, the incumbent owner of the trophy keeps possession.
While the Boilers have enjoyed such a high level of success against the Hoosiers over the years, the city of Ann Arbor has been just as unfriendly to the program. Including Big Ten Tournament results, Ann Arbor stands as the only Big Ten town in which Purdue has never tasted victory. The Boilermakers are 0-4-2 all-time against Michigan (11-2-1, 5-0-1 Big Ten) at the U-M Soccer Stadium and ending that winless drought will not be easy this year. The Wolverines are 7-0-1 at home entering the week, surrendering only two goals in their first eight games. Michigan hosts in-state rival Michigan State Wednesday evening.
The Boilermakers' 15-game unbeaten streak against Indiana ranks as the longest in the history of the program against any opponent. Last season's 8-2 win on a rainy night at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex was a result that was not indicative of the competitiveness of the series. Excluding the three draws in the series, the victorious team has won by more than one goal only twice in 13 games.
Thursday's game is big for Purdue not only because of the Golden Boot rivalry, but also because it needs points to keep pace in the Big Ten Tournament chase. Granted, Indiana has played five of its first six Big Team games against teams that rank among the top six in the standings entering the week; but the fact remains that the only conference opponent against which the Hoosiers have earned standings points against so far is last-place Northwestern.
In the Boilermakers' last visit to Bloomington, Jessica Warren accounted for a second-half equalizer and they went on to win in the final minute of double overtime. Last season, Chinyelu Asher scored twice, Hadley Stuart capped the scoring and Jordan Frick setup a pair of goals. Purdue scored four times in the span of about 10 ½ minutes in the first half to blow the game open.
Warren also scored her first collegiate goal in a 2009 home win against Michigan. Last season, the Wolverines got a hat trick from star striker Nkem Ezurike in their 3-1 win in West Lafayette. She scored three times in 23 minutes to break open a game that was scoreless for the first 62 minutes.
Ezurike has scored eight goals in just 10 games this season. She missed the first four games of the year while playing for her native Canada at the U20 World Cup in Japan. And while Ezurike is one of 12 U-M players that have scored a goal this season, the real star of the team has been the defense. The Wolverines have surrendered a league-low five goals and posted a Big Ten-high 10 shutouts. Nebraska is the only conference opponent that scored against U-M over the first six games of the league schedule.
Indiana's Orianica Velasquez played for her native Columbia at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games. She has scored four goals to go along with a team-four assists for IU this fall. Lisa Nouanesengsy leads the way with seven goals while Rebecca Candler (four goals, seven assists) has played a role on 11 scores. Redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Sarah Stone has started the last two games, her first two starts for the Hoosiers.
Despite its 1-5 Big Ten mark, Indiana held the lead for 23 minutes in the second half against Illinois before giving up a pair of late goals to lose 2-1. Sunday at No. 4 Penn State, IU equalized twice but the Nittany Lions blew the game open late with three goals in a span of six minutes.
The Boilermakers conclude the regular season with a three-game homestand, which begins Oct. 19 against Wisconsin and also features visits from Minnesota (Oct. 21) and Penn State (Oct. 26).