Okoroafo Not Satisfied With Current Success



Nov. 10, 2005

Jessica Okoroafo has scored 10 goals for the Purdue women's soccer team, including six game-winners.

She's a two-time recipient of the Big Ten Conference's Offensive Player of the Week award. Okoroafo also was named the league's freshman of the year, a first for the Boilermaker program.

Okoroafo has accomplished plenty in her first season for coach Rob Klatte. There's more on the horizion.

"She's not the player that she's ultimately going to be," Klatte said.

Which means there's plenty of upside during the next three years for Okoroafo and the Boilermakers, who open NCAA first-round action Friday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Marquette University.

Okoroafo was excited and shocked when she earned the Big Ten's top rookie honor.

"You can't even put that into words," the Sylvania, Ohio, native said. "I knew they had the award, but I didn't think I would be the one getting it."

Okoroafo likely caught opposing teams by surprise earlier in the season when she totaled nine goals during the Boilermakers' first 12 games. Not anymore.

She's scored just one goal in the last six outings. Okoroafo has attempted 24 shots during that span, including 12 shots on goal.

Klatte said several factors have played a role in Okoroafo's recent dry spell.

"Our season is longer and far harder than what they go through in high school or club," Klatte said. "Being a goal scorer in soccer, you get in those spells where the ball falls for you. If we get her the ball in good position, the girl can finish. She's dangerous because she can get in behind defenses."

Okoroafo, a first-team All-American at Sylvania's Northview High School, said the quiet stretch of goals is something she's been able to handle.

"Since I scored those goals, people did pay more attention to me," she said. "It's nothing I can't get through."

Klatte first saw Okoroafo while she was a regional player in the Olympic Developmental Program. Okoroafo later suffered a knee injury and dropped out of the recruiting picture.

"That girl is fast, she takes people on and she can score goals," Klatte said of his impression of Okoroafo. "When I saw her the next time, she didn't look like the same player."

Okoroafo sustained another knee injury later in her career, further pushing back her progress. Klatte said Okoroafo has missed about 21/2 years of development because of the injury setbacks.

"She's not back to full health yet," the eighth-year coach said. "This has been an eye-opening experience for her. The pace of the game, the demand, the work ethic and the amount of running off the ball and defending.

"She's accepted her team role. She's not cocky and doesn't carry herself above other people. She knows her teammates create goals for her."