Saturday at Folk Field Purdue women’s soccer get to play one more time, and it is a big one. For the first time since 2009 the gram has made the NCAA Tournament, and the season was such a success that they get a home game!
The Big Ten Tournament did not go as planned. Purdue won its opening match 1-0 on a goal from, who else? Sarah Griffith. Her conference leading 15th goal of the season sent Purdue to Piscataway for the semifinals, but they were run off the field by Michigan 4-1.
Purdue still heads to the tournament at 14-4-2, with two of those four losses coming at the hands of Michigan. The record meant Purdue gets it opening round game at home against Loyola-Chicago Saturday night at 7pm, so we get back-to-back Purdue football on Saturday, both standard and metric.
Loyola was the Missouri Valley Conference champ, so they earned an automatic bid at 13-2-1. They won the conference tournament. with a 4-1 win over Drake and 4-0 win over Evansville. They are 0-2 against Purdue all-time, losing 5-2 in 2006 and 1-0 in Purdue’s last NCAA Tournament season of 2009. The teams have a common opponent this year. Loyola lost at Nebraska 3-0 and Purdue beat the Cornhuskers 3-1.
A win likely sends Purdue to Notre Dame on November 19th. The Fighting Irish are the No. 3 seed in this quarter of the 64 team field, with Rutgers being the 1 and Arkansas being the 2. The Irish play Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Sunday. Notre Dame handed Purdue’s it’s only non-conference loss, 1-0 on a 59th minute goal at Notre Dame on September 2nd. It would be a tough, but not impossible round of 32 matchup.
It should be an interesting tournament for the ladies. The bid was unexpected, as before the season no one predicted 14 wins and a second place regular season finish in the conference. Griffith has been nothing short of awesome and she is tied for fifth in the country with her 15 goals. With her on the field Purdue always has a chance. She was named the Big Ten’s Forward of the Year and has been clutch with multiple game-winning goals. Purdue had four 1-0 victories this year, and she scored the winner in two of them (both over Ohio State). She also had the game-winner in the 3-2 win over Minnesota, the winner in the 2-1 win over St. Louis, both goals in the 2-1 win over Wisconsin, the equalizer (in the 90th minute!) against Iowa in a 2-1 overtime win, and the equalizer in the 2-1 win over Illinois.