Heading into last weekend’s road series against Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Purdue soccer team sat alone atop the Big Ten; they ended the weekend in fourth.
The Boilers (9-4-1, 4-2-1 Big Ten) entered the weekend 4-0-1 in conference play but dropped this weekend’s games to Wisconsin 2-1 and Minnesota 2-0.
“Obviously not our best weekend,” said senior midfielder Andrea Petrina, owner of Purdue’s only goal from the weekend. “But, I think that we’re using it more as more of a learning moment. With our two freshmen (on defense) and our goalkeeper freshman, it’s a teaching moment for how to deal with pressure.”
Head coach Drew Roff concurred that despite the losses, his team has a lot of positives to take out of the weekend defeats.
“I told my players that’s one of the toughest road trips you can take in the Big Ten,” he said. “Some of those errors and some of those mental mistakes that we made, we need to learn from them. If we do, then (last) weekend will have made us a little bit stronger and a little bit tougher.”
Sunday’s loss to Minnesota was the first time the Boilers have been shut out this season. The Boilermakers are second in the Big Ten in goals scored, with 29 goals; however, they failed to convert any chances against the Gophers.
“I think that we just all gotta be on the same page,” Petrina said of the Boilers’ offensive struggles. “We need to put away all our chances. ... We had a few chances at Wisconsin and Minnesota that we should’ve put away, and obviously we need to capitalize on those.”
Roff was a bit more positive about the scoring chances his team created but thought that more could have been created overall.
“I think it was lack of chances,” Roff said. “That was one of my disappointments from this weekend. I thought our movement and our technique up top (weren’t good), and our mentality wasn’t as aggressive as it needed to be.”
Despite falling to fourth place in the Big Ten standings, the Boilermakers are still in control of their playoff destiny. The top eight teams in the Big Ten advance to the conference tournament. The top four teams are awarded home games and host the bottom four teams.
“Home-field advantage is huge in sports, soccer in particular,” Roff said. “Top four is a great goal for us right now. It’s going to be tough, but we feel like it’s in front of us.”
Despite this weekend’s struggles, Roff is confident in the outlook for his team.
“I’ve never coached a team that achieved big things that didn’t come across some type of adversity throughout the season,” Roff said. “We’ve had a good season and things have gone relatively smoothly and we’re relatively healthy, so a lot of really good things have happened. If (last weekend) is the most adverse situation that we come across, then hopefully it was a nice little wake-up call.”