Dec. 14, 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The defending Big Ten Tournament Champion Boilermakers have elected Amy Burrell and Jessica Okoroafo as their team captains for the 2008 season.
The seniors-to-be are charged with the difficult task of improving on 2007's .860 winning percentage (20-2-3), which was second best in the nation to UCLA (20-2-2;.875).
Both veterans are honored to lead the Old Gold and Black and look forward to accepting this challenge.
"I'm excited that my teammates believe in me enough to place me in such an important position," said Okoroafo, a native of Sylvania, Ohio. "I hope to instill confidence in my teammates so we can achieve our goals in the upcoming year. We'll have a good young team that will achieve great things with the right attitude."
"To me, a team captain is a trustworthy and respected leader who puts the needs of the team above her own," added West Lafayette native Burrell. "We return a solid core of returning players, and undoubtedly other talented players will emerge for an exciting spring and an optimistic fall season. I'm anxious to see how we respond to the challenges facing us."
Purdue's biggest challenge in 2008 will be to replace an experienced senior-laden lineup that included eight starters. The entire midfield, plus 75 percent of the defense, and 2/3 of the attacking line need to be replaced.
Late season injuries to forwards Parrissa Eyorokon and Jill Sarbaugh allowed Purdue to catch a glimpse of next year's offense. Reserves Loredana Riverso, Sylvia Forbes and Felicia Schroeder made a tremendous impact in the seniors' absences, combining for nine goals and four assists over the last four weeks of the season.
Okoroafo, who is only one of three returning starters, did not score until the start of the Big Ten season but finished with nine goals and seven assists.
The competition among last year's reserves and newcomers should be fierce this spring as they battle for a spot in the starting lineup. Almost every position is up for grabs.
"The only way to accomplish the goals we have and will be setting is through hard work," said Burrell. "That is what this spring is all about, building a system and standard of hard work that can be carried through to the fall."
Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jessica Stellhorn should be expected to start again on defense, but next to whom? None of next year's Boilermakers made a defensive start other than sophomore-to-be Liz Secue, who subbed in for Zarinah Blockton against Illinois.
However, the cupboard is not completely bare. Burrell has experience starting on defense and there's hope that Kerri Culley - who redshirted in 2007 - can be a prime contributor as well.
Midfield will require the coaching staff to combine three individuals whose playing experiences with one another is limited. The Boilermakers could really use a healthy Katie Becker, who missed all of 2007 with an ankle injury. Becker left Minnetonka (Minn.) high school as its all-time leading scorer and had a productive 2006 with Purdue, coming off the bench in 14 matches and scoring one goal.
Purdue is solid in between the pipes with Jenny Bradfisch and Carianne Betts. This duo combined for eight of the team's season record 14 shutouts and their .467 goals-against average was the third lowest in the country behind only Virginia (.402) and BYU (.464).
The Boilermakers begin Winter training upon their arrival back to school on Jan. 7. Purdue's first scrimmages against Dayton and Loyola-Chicago take place indoors at the Mollenkopf Athletic Center on Feb. 23.
Purdue's full spring schedule will be announced at a later date.