Oct. 12, 2010
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue women’s soccer takes on Michigan Thursday evening in Ann Arbor, playing on the road for the fourth time in its last five games.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the U-M Soccer Stadium, which the Boilermakers will get their first look at Thursday. The complex opened in October 2008 and the construction of the surrounding stadium was finished earlier this year. Purdue visits Ann Arbor for the first time since 2007.
“Michigan is a dramatically different team than it has been over the last several seasons,” Purdue head coach Robert Klatte said. “It’s a team that’s very direct, very athletic and challenging. Heading duels and second balls off headers are going to play a really key part in who keeps possession.
“Michigan has a new field, a very nice stadium setup. But it’s a very small field and a hard surface, which makes it play even smaller. And that just plays into their direct style. They’ve also been utilizing long throw-ins.”
The Big Ten Network is set to offer a live video webstream of the match on its website, www.BigTenNetwork.com.
Purdue (6-8-2, 2-3-1 Big Ten) will be in search of its first-ever victory in Ann Arbor, where the Boilermakers are 0-3-2 against Michigan (5-4-2, 0-1-2 Big Ten) and also lost a 2005 Big Ten Tournament game to Wisconsin. The Wolverines lead the all-time series with Purdue, 5-3-3, but have not posted a win in the series since 2006.
The Boilermakers won last year’s game in West Lafayette, 1-0, behind a first-half goal from Jessica Warren. Michigan’s 2-0 victory in Ann Arbor in 2006 marked the only the time since 2001 that either team scored multiple goals in the annual meeting.
Thursday’s game will be Purdue’s fifth in a stretch of 14 days. But the Boilermakers won’t play again until hosting No. 24 Ohio State on Oct. 24, getting nine days off. While Purdue has already played a league-high 16 games, Michigan has only taken the pitch a league-low 11 times this year. The conference schedule is the primary reason for the difference in games. The Boilermakers are set for their seventh conference game Thursday, while the Wolverines will only be playing their fourth.
Michigan has scored just one goal in its first three conference games. The Wolverines were able to earn standings points in the Big Ten thanks to draws at Northwestern (1-1) and vs. Michigan State (0-0). Nkem Ezurike (6 goals) and Tori McCombs (4) have accounted for 10 of Michigan’s 15 goals this year.
Defensively, the Wolverines have posted shutouts in five of their 11 games. Common opponent Toledo is the only team to score multiple goals against Michigan this season. Toledo played the Wolverines to a 2-2 draw Sept. 10 in northwest Ohio.
For Purdue, Katie Leinert scored in both games last week. She accounted for the game-winner in the second half of the rivalry victory against Indiana Oct. 7. She also scored late in the loss at No. 16 Minnesota Sunday. It marked the second time in the junior’s career that she has scored in consecutive contests. She also accomplished the feat during the Wisconsin-Northwestern road trip last season.
The Boilermakers enter the week having surrendered 24 goals in their 16 games. But eight of those 24 goals came in losses at nationally-ranked opponents Illinois and Minnesota. And five of those eight scores went up on the scoreboard in the final 10 minutes of the game. Sunday at Minnesota, Purdue surrendered four second-half goals for the first time since losing at North Carolina in the Sweet 16 round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
“The key for us is not going behind,” Klatte said. “If we can avoid giving up the first goal and not having to chase the game, we’ve felt very positive about the results throughout the season. If we find ourselves going a goal or two goals down, where we have to chase the game and open ourselves in the back, it hasn’t proven to be a successful formula for us.”