WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Before hosting Big Ten champion Penn State for Friday's regular-season finale, Purdue women's soccer will honor its four seniors at the annual senior recognition day ceremony, held for the first time under the lights at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday evening. Purdue's four seniors - Tayler Francel, Marta Lynch, Yana Lyon and Jessica Warren - will be recognized for their contributions to the program at the pregame ceremony. Senior team manager Brian Montenegro, senior student athletic trainer Marina Bisaro and Penn State's seniors will also be part of the ceremony.
The game itself unfortunately won't have an impact on the Big Ten standings for either the Boilers (7-9-2, 2-7-1 Big Ten) or the No. 4 Nittany Lions (15-2-1, 9-0-1 Big Ten). Purdue was eliminated from Big Ten Tournament contention Sunday with its loss to Minnesota. Penn State scored late against second-place Michigan to salvage a 1-1 draw. Denying Michigan the three standings points allowed PSU to clinch its 15th-consecutive Big Ten regular-season title.
While a positive result may not be able to help extend Purdue's season, that doesn't mean such a result wouldn't be a feather in the team's cap. The Boilermakers have just two results against PSU in their 13 all-time meetings - a win in 2003 and a draw in 2001, both in West Lafayette. Purdue could also prevent the Nittany Lions from posting an unbeaten Big Ten record this season, a feat that has not been accomplished since PSU went 10-0 in 2005. Penn State enters the weekend riding an 11-game unbeaten streak.
Francel, Lynch, Lyon and Warren have all spent at least four years with the program. As a fifth-year senior, Lyon joined the team in 2008. They've each overcome injuries and as a group seen their home-field surroundings change quite a bit during their time with the program. The Boilermaker Soccer Complex began changing after their sophomore season, culminating this season with the unveiling of the new-look facility that they have been able to experience firsthand. Lights were installed last fall, but the 2011 senior day game was held on a Sunday afternoon.
Warren said she plans to play Friday after missing the last three and a half games with a knee injury. A team captain this season, Warren started at least one game in each of her four seasons at Purdue.
Penn State is a dynamic offensive team, leading the nation with 58 goals. Christine Nairn (13 goals), Maya Hayes (12) and Mallory Weber (10) have teamed up to account for 35 of the 58 scores, but 13 different Lions have found the back of the net at least once. Hayes has scored her 12 goals in just 11 goals after the 2011 Big Ten Forward of the Year missed the first seven games while playing for Team USA at the U20 World Cup in Japan.
Penn State's offensive excellence has overshadowed its somewhat average year defensively. The Nittany Lions have surrendered 19 goals in their 18 games, posting only three shutouts during their 11-game unbeaten streak. PSU surrendered three goals in each of its two losses this year.
For Purdue, Jordan Pawlik joined the program's single-season Top 10 list for goals with two more scores last weekend to improve her team-leading total to nine, the most by a Boiler since 2007. With a goal Friday, she would become only the fifth player in program history to record a double-figure goal total.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Clara Kridler enters the season finale with a Big Ten-leading 86 saves, 11 shy of the Purdue single-season record.
Indiana and Iowa are jockeying for the eighth and final Big Ten Tournament berth. An Indiana win or draw against No. 25 Ohio State would give the Hoosiers the final spot in the field. Iowa can qualify with a home win against Wisconsin and an Indiana loss.