Purdue soccer has a younger look this season — a much younger look.
After losing five seniors last year, head coach Drew Roff has replenished the roster with a group of 11 freshmen. They’ve wasted no time making their mark on the program.
In two exhibition matches, the freshmen group scored two goals and put eight balls on the net. This weekend, the team hosts the Boilermaker Challenge Cup, featuring No. 25 West Virginia and Iowa State. Purdue will take on the Mountaineers at 7 p.m. Friday at Folk Field.
“It’s going to be a great test for us mentally and physically,” Roff said. “Our goal is to be a top-20 program, so it’ll be a great measuring stick. Either way, we’ll be able to find out where we look like a top-20 team and if there are some areas where we’re still not there yet, we’ll find that out too. Early in the season, that’s what you want.”
In the first match of the season against Eastern Michigan, the newcomers were again the stars of the show.
Freshman midfielders Teagan Jones and Skylurr Patrick each put a ball past the keeper, with Patrick’s coming just 39 seconds into the game. That already puts her in the record book with the fastest goal from a freshman, and the fifth fastest goal in program history.
If the team continues with that same trend, the Boilers could be in for an exciting match against West Virginia.
“We’ll probably start six freshmen on Friday night,” Roff said. “A lot of new faces, but what they lack in experience, they bring a high level of talent. Ideally, you have talent and experience. But if I had to choose one, I’d take talent.”
The new Boilermakers could learn a thing or two from midfielder Sarah Clark and goalkeeper Katie Luce, who just one year ago were freshmen themselves.
The pair of sophomores finished last season as members of the Big Ten All-Freshman team. To follow up those awards, they were named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors list.
“As a coach, players that you know you can count on,” Roff said speaking about the duo, “day in, day out, to really prepare at the highest level and then perform at the highest level, those are the types of players that really make our job that much better.”
Senior defender and captain Hannah Mussallem was also named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors list.
Northwestern will also be playing in the round-robin tournament; however, the conference foes will not face-off. To celebrate National Waffle Day, the team will be giving out free waffles to fans while supplies last.