WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A season-ending shutout win at rival Indiana not only allowed Purdue women's soccer to regain possession of the Golden Boot trophy, but also clinched the Boilermakers' first winning season since 2009.
Under first-year head coach Drew Roff, Purdue opened the season 5-1 and was competitive throughout its 9-8-1 campaign. The Boilermakers suffered only two losses by more than one goal; of the 1,671 minutes of regular-season action Purdue played in 2015, it trailed by multiple goals for only 110 minutes.
Despite a less-than-favorable October schedule, the Boilermakers (4-6-1 B1G) also avoided the late-season skid that had plagued them in recent years. After hosting Penn State and Rutgers -- both NCAA College Cup qualifiers -- the week of Oct. 11 to 16 for the final home games at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex, Purdue had to play its final three matches on the road. The team still managed to earn seven standings points from that five-game stretch, narrowly missing out on a Big Ten Tournament berth in the process.
As things turned out, the new 11-game non-round robin Big Ten schedule hampered Purdue's pursuit of a conference tournament berth. The two teams that the Boilermakers did not play in 2015, Iowa and Michigan State, both failed to qualify for the eight-team Big Ten Tournament. Meanwhile, eighth-place Illinois (4-4-3 B1G) had the advantage of not playing co-champions Penn State and Wisconsin.
Purdue won its head-to-head meeting with the Fighting Illini on Sept. 20 to remain unbeaten (6-0-3) all time against Illinois in West Lafayette. The game was played in front of a program-record crowd of 1,488 at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex that was made possible thanks to the help of local youth soccer organizations the Greater Lafayette Regional Soccer Alliance and Boilers FC.
Over the final week and a half of the season, Purdue rallied for an overtime win at Maryland and posted its first victory in Bloomington since 2009. In the process, the Boilermakers won an overtime game on the road for the fourth year in a row and recorded their first victories after Oct. 7 since 2011. The Golden Boot returned to the Purdue trophy case since losing possession of for the first time in 2012.
Junior Maddy Williams led the Boilermakers in goals (eight), assists (six) and points (22) while being one of only four players to start all 18 regular-season games. She led the team in goals and points for the third year in a row, becoming the first Boilermaker to accomplish the feat. Hannah Leinert had seven goals and five assists in her first season at Purdue as a transfer from Illinois State. Leinert played a starring role in the Big Ten wins against Maryland and Nebraska, scoring a goal and setting up another in both 2-1 victories. Williams and Leinert gave Purdue its first duo with at least seven goals apiece since 2008.
Defenders Kim Love, Makaela Nellams and Vanessa Korolas also started all 18 games. Love played every minute of a season for the second time in her career and finished her four years as a Boilermaker having started all 72 games in which she played. Nellams connected on the game-winning penalty kick in overtime at Maryland. Korolas started all 37 games during her underclassman seasons.
Purdue only had two freshmen on its roster in 2015, but Hannah Mussallem and Dannah Williams were the only other Boilermakers to play in every game. Williams started every Big Ten game, moving to center back in the Illinois win (game No. 2) and not coming off the field the rest of the season.
Goalkeepers Erika Yohn (13 starts) and Jordan Ginther (five starts) both saw their fair share of action protecting the net. Ginther led Purdue to a scoreless draw against nationally ranked Rutgers on Senior Day, Purdue's first scoreless draw since September 2010. Yohn started the first six games of the year and then the first six Big Ten games. She was back in goal for the shutout win at Indiana in the season finale.
Williams scored twice in each of the first two games of the season, becoming the first Purdue player to accomplish the feat. She continued her hot start with a goal the following weekend against Baylor. Add in the five goals she scored in the two preseason exhibition games that don't count toward her career total and Williams' August goal-scoring rampage hit double figures at 10.
Williams will enter her senior season with 24 goals, 18 assists and 66 points for her Purdue career. The program's all-time records are 35 goals, 23 assists and 90 points.
The Boilermakers scored 28 goals in 2015, nine more than the year prior despite playing one fewer regular-season game. There were numerous high-quality scoring sequences throughout the season, but two in particular left memorable impressions. Nicole Robertson headed in a Love cross in the 89th minute to make Purdue a 4-3 winner vs. Xavier on Aug. 23 in a wild back-and-forth game. Love also assisted on Mikayla Lasky's great one-touch goal to finish off a fantastic free-kick sequence that gave the Boilermakers the lead early in the second half against No. 9 Penn State on Oct. 15.
Purdue is only graduating three seniors from its 2015 team and should return the majority of regular starting lineup for the 2016 campaign.
BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Hannah Leinert, Oct. 6
BIG TEN SPORTSMANSHIP HONOREE
Kim Love, Female Recipient of Outstanding Sportsmanship Award for all of Purdue Athletics
COLLEGESOCCER360.com PRIMETIME PERFORMERS
Hannah Leinert, Oct. 7
EXHIBITION GAME HAT TRICK
Maddy Williams, Aug. 11 at Milwaukee
ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN (3.0+ GPA)
Aug. 23 -- Purdue scores twice in final six minutes for 4-3 victory vs. Xavier
Sept. 20 -- Purdue defeats Illinois 3-1 in front of record crowd of 1,488
Oct. 18 -- Purdue victorious in overtime at Maryland 2-1
Oct. 28 -- Purdue regains possession of Golden Boot trophy with 2-0 win at Indiana
GAMES AGAINST NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS (6 GAMES)
Sept. 4 -- at Purdue 1, Evansville 0
Sept. 18 -- Northwestern 1, at Purdue 0
Sept. 25 -- at No. 18 Minnesota 3, Purdue 1
Oct. 8 -- at Ohio State 3, Purdue 2
Oct. 11 -- at Purdue 0, No. 23 Rutgers 0 (Rutgers was an NCAA College Cup qualifier)
Oct. 15 -- No. 9 Penn State 2, at Purdue 1 (PSU won the national title)