No. 18 Purdue Responds with 1-0 Win to Clinch Second in Big Ten

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The No. 18 Purdue soccer team clinched a second-place finish in the Big Ten standings with a 1-0 victory over Northwestern on Thursday night at Folk Field.

The Boilermakers (12-3-2, 7-2-0 Big Ten) won their 12th game for the first time since 2009 and their seventh Big Ten game for just the third time in program history, joining an eight-win 2007 squad and a seven-win 2005 team. Purdue’s overall and conference records are both its best since 2007.

For the third time in team history, along with 2005 and 2007, the Old Gold and Black will finish second in the Big Ten standings to tie their best regular-season finish. The Boilermakers have 21 points, four ahead of the third-place team, with one regular-season match to play. That final contest is an in-state rivalry game against Indiana at Folk Field on Sunday, October 24. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET, as the Golden Boot Trophy will be on the line.

With Thursday night’s win, Purdue will host a quarterfinal game of the Big Ten Tournament against the No. 7 seed on Sunday, October 31, at Folk Field. Additionally details, including opponent, start time and ticket information, will be announced at the conclusion of the regular season.

Senior forward Sydney Duarte scored her third goal of the season in the 16th minute and senior goalkeeper Marisa Bova and the defense shut out the Wildcats (7-8-1, 3-5-1 Big Ten) to help the Boilermakers to their 12th win.

The clean sheet victory is the fourth of the season and second in three games. The win came after a 2-1 loss at Penn State on Sunday, as the Boilermakers have won four of their last five and 10 of 12.

“The team responded really well,” Purdue coach Drew Roff said. “I’m really proud of them, tonight was a tough one. The early goal was fantastic, but we want to keep pushing for that second one. We didn’t just want to sit in and catch them in transition, which just didn’t happen, so we had to really defend and hang in there. Northwestern was playing for the three points, they were definitely throwing everything at us. It was tough dealing with the direct play and good athletes, so I’m really proud of [Marisa Bova] and the back line just hanging tough and getting the shutout victory.”

Duarte’s goal is her third this year and fifth of her career, and her first game-winning goal. Sophomore midfielder Emily Mathews and freshman forward Gracie Dunaway earned assists, Mathews’ fourth and Dunaway’s team-leading seventh. Dunaway’s seven assists are second-most by a freshman in program history and tied for No. 9 overall in a single season.

Bova made three saves to earn the clean sheet as she continued to climb up the Purdue record books. Her 18 career shutouts continues to rank No. 3 all-time, and her four this season is tied for No. 7. Bova collected her 26th career victory, which remains fourth, and it was her 12th win this year, tied for fifth. With three saves tonight, she has 88 on the season, tied for No. 4, and 205 in her career, a total that continues to be No. 5.

Purdue had 17 shots to Northwestern’s 13, and the Boilermakers had a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal. NU’s keeper made eight saves, and both teams cleared a ball off the line. Senior forward Sarah Griffith had a game-high eight shots, four on goal, and Mathews had a pair of shots, one on target.

The lone goal of the match came at 15:23. Off a Northwestern turnover near the Big Ten logo on the near side of the field, senior midfielder Grace Walsh sent a quick pass to Dunaway, who collected the ball, spun and passed to Mathews just inside the corner of the 18-yard box. Mathews dribbled once and sent a right-footed cross towards the back post. She met a sprinting Duarte on the far side of the goal box, who beat the NU defender and goalkeeper to the ball. Duarte then simply tapped it in to give the Boilermakers the lead.

After Purdue had a 9-5 edge in shots in the first half, and a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal, each team had eight shots in the second half, with two on target for NU and three on goal for the home side.

With a 1-0 lead, Bova and the back line prevented Northwestern, fighting for a top-eight qualifying spot in the conference tournament, from finding the equalizer.

“This time of year, everybody’s just trying to get the most out of the season as they can, and everybody’s fighting for those last, eight teams qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament, with the table so tight in the Big Ten,” Roff added. “Northwestern usually plays with certain formations, and tonight they came out with something totally different than we’ve seen on film. They usually like to keep the ball a little bit, tonight they put us under pressure and forced us to make mistakes. It definitely caught us a little off guard, just because we hadn’t seen that, but we made the adjustment. Getting that one goal was crucial, but our backline of [seniors] Skyler Patrick [and] Maya Lambert, [sophomore] Nicole Kevdzija and [junior] Lauren Holleran did a great job of dealing with some of those long serves and winning the headers and then standing players up. It’s key with those athletic forwards to get in transition that you don’t dive in because if you miss, then you really put yourself in a tough spot.”

Up next, the regular season concludes against in-state rival Indiana on Sunday, October 24, at 1 p.m. ET, at Folk Field. Admission is free for all fans.