It is hard to believe that Purdue soccer hasn’t even reached the 8-team Big Ten Tournament since 2008, but here we are. The ladies have struggled quite a bit. In 2008 the ladies finished 12-7-3 overall, 5-3-2 in the conference, and reached the league tournament before falling to Minnesota in the quarterfinals. That was just two years after Purdue went 20-2-3, won the Big Ten Tournament, and entered the NCAAs as the No. 4 seed, but were upset in the second round by Indiana.
While the Big Ten Tournament has not been held every year, Purdue lone winning season in that time was 12-6-3 (5-3-2) in 2009, which was the program’s last NCAA appearance. Since then Purdue has gone 17-52-6 in conference play before this season.
So tonight was a big night. It was the final regular season home game after a hard-fought 2-2 draw at No. 9 Penn State last weekend. A win over Maryland meant a return to the Big Ten Tournament, and Purdue did just that. Maddie Williams scored twice and became the first player in program history to reach 100 career points (goals + assists). It moves Purdue to 10-6-2 on the year, 5-4-2 in league play, and into the postseason.
As far as the tournament itself, Purdue could play anywhere. The top 4 seeds will host the quarterfinals starting on Sunday, and with 17 points in the standings the Boilers can’t finish in the top 4. They will likely play at Ohio State, Northwestern Penn State, or Rutgers, who were in the top 4 before tonight. Purdue did relatively well against those four, as it beat Northwestern 2-0 and tied Penn State 2-2. It did not play Rutgers or Ohio State.
Purdue could have finished higher if not for a controversial overtime loss to Nebraska at home where the Boilers appeared to score the winning goal, but it was waived off and seconds later the Cornhuskers scored.
As for the NCAA Tournament, Purdue has a shot, but they have fallen to 59th in the RPI with a four game losing streak to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. A strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament could get them in though.
UPDATE: The Big Ten Tournament is now set as follows:
8. Iowa at 1. Ohio State, 4pm
7. Purdue at 2. Northwestern, 3:30pm
6. Wisconsin at 3. Minnesota, 2pm (BTN)
5. Penn State at 4. Rutgers, 1pm
Semifinals: November 3 (Grand Park, Westfield, IN) 1pm and 3:30pm
Final: November 5 2pm (Grand Park, Westfield, IN) 2pm