Oct. 14, 2004
By R.J. Wachs
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue (7-6, 3-4) heads into this weekend searching for its first road victory of the season. The Boilermakers travel to the Champaign countryside on Friday to face No. 24 Illinois (10-4, 4-3), and on Sunday head to Chicago for a battle with Northwestern (7-6-1, 3-4).
Purdue is 0-4 on the road and have been outscored 8-1.
The Boilermakers are in the thick of the conference playoff chase, thanks to a 1-0 win over Michigan State Sunday. The game's lone goal was scored in the 37th minute by Kim Comisar, with an assist from Christy Riggle.
Purdue is currently tied with an underrated Northwestern squad for the seventh, two points ahead of Michigan State. Both the Boilermakers and Wildcats have nine points, while the Spartans have seven.
Illinois, currently fourth in the Big Ten, will test Purdue's readiness for a potential postseason berth. The Illini possess a strong offensive attack and an all-conference goalkeeper, although their talents seemed diminished in losses to Penn State (3-0) and Ohio State (2-0) last weekend.
Prior to their back-to-back conference losses, Illinois had outscored its opponents 25-6 this season.
Leading the Illinois scoring charge is Tara Hurless. The senior co-captain has seven goals and five assists on the season. An equally important part of the Fighting Illini's offensive assault is Jessica Bayne, who is tied with Hurless for the team lead in goals. The sophomore also has been credited with two assists.
Illinois' defense has been just as impressive. As a unit they've held the opposition to 11 goals all season, with senior netminder Leisha Alcia leading the way. Alcia has 62 saves this season and boasts a goals-against average of 0.73.
Sunday afternoon, the Boilermakers battle a Northwestern squad, which owns a misleading 3-4 conference record. The Wildcats recently dropped two close contests, losing to third-ranked Penn State, 1-0, and Ohio State, 2-1, in overtime. Penn State, the highest scoring team in the conference, was limited to 10 shots by the 'Cats defense.
The Wildcat's defense is allowing just under 10 shots per game this season. Goalkeeper Whitney Jones has only been forced to make 54 saves, an average of four per match.
The Wildcats also have quite a potent offense, which dominated Iowa, 6-0, and Minnesota, 3-1, two weeks ago.
Freshman Kelsey Hans leads the Wildcat offense with 11 goals and two assists. Shannon Schneeman also has contributed to Northwestern's scoring charge with five goals and five assists on the season.
The all-time series between Northwestern and Purdue stands at 3-2 in favor of the Old Gold and Black. Purdue's record against Illinois is not as favorable, as the Illini have beaten the Boilermakers four out of seven times. In their most recent meeting, Illinois knocked Purdue out of the 2003 conference tournament with a 2-0 victory.
The Boilermakers return home to the Varsity Soccer Complex on Friday, October 22 for senior day when they face Indiana at 3 p.m. This year's senior class of Lori Arnold, Maureen Carey, Meghan Dybvig, Crystal Rivas and Arin Yarc will be honored during pregame festivities.