WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- For what sets up as a make-or-break weekend for the Boilermakers, Purdue women's soccer hosts Wisconsin and Minnesota in need of results as a three-game homestand kicks off at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex.
Friday's game versus Wisconsin (10-5-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten) is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff and has been designated social media night. Twitter users who Tweet about the match using the #BeatWisc hashtag will be eligible for $1 admission. It will also be a Boilermaker Blackout at Purdue's home pitch; fans are encouraged to wear black Purdue clothing to the event.
Sunday's match with Minnesota (9-6-1, 4-3-1 Big Ten) is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff. A rededication of the new-look Boilermaker Soccer Complex will be held before kickoff. During the game Purdue (7-7-2, 2-5-1 Big Ten) will don white uniforms with blue lettering featuring jigsaw puzzle pieces for the annual special jerseys game. The jigsaw puzzle piece is the official logo of autism awareness. A silent auction for the jerseys as well as standard donation opportunities will be held during the game, with proceeds benefitting the Indiana Autism Society.
After losing all three games of a recent three-game road stretch, it's do-or-die time for the Boilers if they are to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue enters the week two standings points behind the three teams tied for seventh place and the final Big Ten Tournament berths. With a regular-season finale against league-leading Penn State (8-0 Big Ten) on the horizon for next Friday, the Boilers need to earn as many points as possible this weekend against two opponents that are also in the Big Ten Tournament chase.
Entering the week, Wisconsin (10 points), Iowa (9), Nebraska (9), Indiana (9), Purdue (7) and Michigan State (7) are jockeying for the final three Big Ten Tournament spots. Minnesota (13) is tied with Illinois for fourth place. The Boilermakers own a potential tiebreaker against Nebraska but would come up on the short end of head-to-head tiebreakers versus Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State.
While Purdue and Indiana both play their final three games at home, Wisconsin and Minnesota have to go on the road for their final three contests. The Badgers and Gophers made the most of their final home games last weekend, each earning six standings points thanks to wins against Illinois and Northwestern. Both teams leapfrogged the Boilers in the standings in the process.
Minnesota has earned all of its 13 standings points at home, capitalizing on a schedule that featured six of its 11 Big Ten games in St. Paul this season. The Gophers played at home six times during a seven-game stretch from Sept. 21 through Oct. 14, earning points in five of the six home dates.
A scoreless draw at Ohio State accounted for Wisconsin's only Big Ten standings point away from Madison thus far. But the Badgers bounced back from a recent four-game winless streak with three victories last week, punctuated by an overtime win against Illinois Sunday.
Purdue is 6-1-2 at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex, scoring a goal in eight of the nine games. The team hopes the home field advantage will help snap a current scoring drought of 359 consecutive minutes dating back to the first half of the Sept. 30 draw with Illinois.
Seven different players have scored multiple goals for the Badgers this season. Cara Walls has accounted for a team-high eight, while Paige Adams (5 goals, 4 assists) and Kinley McNicoll (3 goals, 5 assists) have also impacted at least that many. Defensively, Genevieve Richard has started four of the last five games at goalkeeper after it was Lauren Gunderson's starting job exclusively for the first half of the season.
With the 2010 Purdue-Wisconsin Big Ten opener in West Lafayette ending in a scoreless draw and the Boilers winning in shutout fashion in both 2006 and 2007, the Badgers have not scored at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex since 2004.
Purdue's win at Minnesota last season was its first against the Gophers in St. Paul since 2005 and snapped a four-game losing streak in the series. Led by new head coach Stefanie Golan, Minnesota features the Big Ten leader in goals, Taylor Uhl (16). The sophomore was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year a season ago after scoring 15 times. She has accounted for 16 of the Gophers' 33 scores and assisted on nine of the other 17 goals. Goalkeeper Cat Parkhill has started every game and played all but 48 minutes. She is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after leading the way in shutout wins of Illinois and Northwestern last weekend.
Minnesota visits West Lafayette for the first time since 2009.