WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue women's soccer closes out its home schedule this week with a pair of important games in its Big Ten Tournament push, as the Boilers host Indiana Thursday evening for the annual Golden Boot traveling trophy game and Michigan Sunday afternoon for senior recognition day.
The Boilermakers (5-8-2, 2-3-1) opened their three-match homestand Sunday with a big win over Ohio State. The three standings points earned with the victory vaulted Purdue over Indiana and Nebraska and greatly enhanced its Big Ten Tournament chances. With the Boilers scheduled to play their final three games on the road, including a season finale at league-leading Penn State, points this week are essential.
Thursday Purdue puts its 14-game unbeaten streak (11-0-3) on the line against Indiana. The longest unbeaten streak against any opponent in program history has allowed the Boilers to never relinquish possession of the Golden Boot, which was introduced to the series in 2002. A draw allows the current owner of the Boot to retain possession.
Michigan plays at rival Michigan State Wednesday before traveling to West Lafayette. The Wolverines are looking to rebound from a frustrating 1-0 loss to Northwestern Saturday in Ann Arbor, a game they lost on a second-half own goal. It was the Wildcats' first road win of the season.
Purdue's senior class has represented a large part of the team's core for multiple seasons. Led by four-year starters Montenegro, Phillips and Tryba, the seniors have started a combined 309 games during their careers. With 14 goals and 19 assists in her career, Phillips is the program's active leader in both statistical categories. Montenegro and Rogers have never missed in a game in their four seasons. Furthermore, Rogers has not even left the field since November 2009, going the distance in 38 consecutive games. As a member of the program since 2007, Varnau has helped lead the Boilers to a 35-14-9 record at home while witnessing 58 games at the Varsity Soccer Complex.
The seniors also played starring roles in the Ohio State win. Phillips and Blacha scored the two goals, both off assists from McCalla.
Meanwhile, Leinert scored against both Indiana and Michigan last season. She accounted for the game-winner against the Hoosiers, off an assist from Varnau, after Phillips had given the Boilers a halftime lead. A week later at Michigan, Leinert scored for the third consecutive game. But the Wolverines equalized early in the second half and went on to win on a goal in the 83rd minute. Junior Jessica Warren accounted for the only goal, the first of her career, in the last Purdue-Michigan game in West Lafayette.
Since opening the season 4-2-1, Indiana has compiled a 2-5 record over the last month while getting shutout three times in those seven games. The Hoosiers posted their Big Ten wins against Nebraska and Northwestern.
Orianica Velasquez (6 goals), Lisa Nouanesengsy (5) and Carly Samp (4) have teamed up to account for 15 of IU's 21 goals. Samp accounted for the Hoosiers' late score in last year's game in West Lafayette. Senior Lindsay Campbell is back as the starting goalkeeper this season, her third as a starter, after playing in only five games a year ago.
Michigan swept its Iowa-Nebraska road trip two weekends ago to surge into second place in the standings. In their setback to last-place Northwestern, the Wolverines out shot NU 18-8 Saturday, but only managed to put five shots on goal. Michigan also has a conference-opening win at Indiana.
Sunday's game will feature the Big Ten's top two goalkeepers in saves. The Wolverines' Hayley Kopmeyer leads the league with 87 while playing every minute of the season and leading the way in six shutouts. Purdue's Clara Kridler ranks second with 78 saves.
Michigan's 12 goals against are the third fewest in the league. The Wolverines have also made the most of their 21 goals, 12 having been scored by the duo of Nkem Ezurike (7) and Clare Stachel (5). However, six different players have accounted for a game-winner. Ezurike accounted for the equalizer and Stachel the game-winner in last year's Purdue-Michigan game in Ann Arbor.
This week's games represent the last at home before the fully-renovated Varsity Soccer Complex, complete with its new locker rooms and pressbox, will be unveiled under the lights in time for the 2012 season opener.