The Big Ten fears her. She lurks, waiting to deliver a reckoning to opponents. Defenses know she is there, but do not know when she will strike.
She is Sarah Griffith, and as Purdue basketball SID Chris Forman said last night, you will put some respect on her name.
With three games left in the regular season Purdue soccer is enjoying its best campaign in 12 years. They currently sit at 11-2-2 on the year and a very impressive 6-1 in Big Ten play. they trail only #9 Rutgers (12-2, 7-0) in conference play with three games left. Unfortunately Purdue does not play the Scarlet Knights this season, so they will need some assistance to get the first Big Ten championship in program history.
Nationally, Purdue is in the top 25 for the first time since 2009, which is also the last time the program made the NCAA Tournament. It is the best season since Purdue went 20-1-3 overall, reached the top 5, beat #1 Portland when they had some young lady named Megan Rapinoe (who has had a career of some note), and won the Big Ten Tournament before getting upset in round two of the NCAAs by Indiana on penalty kicks (after blasting them 7-0 in the regular season a few weeks earlier).
And much of it is due to Griffith, who is playing like an All-American.
Griffith currently leads the Big Ten with 12 goals on the year. That is good enough for 2nd nationally, behind the 14 from three other players. Many of hers have come at opportune times, like last night in a 1-0 defeat of Ohio State in overtime.
Griffith is currently on quite a run, having scored in six straight contests. Sh also nabbed the game-winner in the 85th minute Sunday in a 3-2 win over Minnesota and both goals in a 2-1 win over Wisconsin before that.
She is what they would call, on a heater, and with Maria Bova in net notching 81 saves against only 14 goals Purdue has quite a thing going on now. Emily Mathews has chipped in an additional five goals and Gracie Dunaway has 6 assists on the year as the top setup woman.
Purdue has a real chance to do some damage the rest of the way. They are at Penn State (9-5, 3-4) on Sunday before hosting Northwestern (7-6-1, 3-3-1) and Indiana (9-3-3, 3-2-2) next week to close the regular season. Since the soccer standings work on “3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw” they have a three point deficit to make up in the last three games. Rutgers has to play Michigan State (9-2-3, 4-2-1) at home this weekend before closing at Indiana and Illinois (5-8-1, 1-5-1).
Purdue is very likely to host one of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals as a top 4 seed, and they will be at home the rest of the way as long as they are the higher seed. As far as the NCAAs go, much like other sports, the top 16 national seeds get to host the first two rounds, so that is in play as well. The Boilers are 7-1-1 at Folk Field, too. Purdue’s only losses were to Notre Dame and Michigan, with the draws coming against Kentucky and at #18 Vanderbilt.
It is a banner year for the ladies, and Griffith is leading the way as she stalks more goals in the shadows.