In its last regular season game and with a trip to the Big Ten Tournament on the line, the Purdue soccer team shut out Maryland 2-0 to clinch its first playoff berth since 2008.
In order to qualify for the playoffs, Purdue leaned heavily on senior forward Maddy Williams to carry them to the promised land. Williams scored twice in last Friday’s game at Penn State to get a much-needed draw against one of the conference’s top teams.
Wednesday night against Maryland, Williams was again spectacular, adding two more goals to her count. She broke through in the 12th minute with a shot from the heart of the 18-yard box. She netted another in the 78th minute that iced the regular season finale in favor of the Boilers.
“Any time (senior defender Vanessa Korolas) gets on the sideline, you know it’s going to get crossed in the box,” Williams said of her fellow senior. “I just got in my position and (the first goal) fell right at my feet. ... Second one, great ball from (senior midfielder Gabby LaMere) and it was a breakaway. So, pretty easy.”
Before the game, Williams was honored for her record-breaking accomplishments during her time as a Boilermaker. She was given three honorary soccer balls inscribed with her Purdue records: career goals (36), career assists (26), and career points (98).
During Wednesday’s game, Williams was apparently not content with three Purdue records as she broke two more. This time, she took down the single-season goals and points records with 14 and 34, respectively.
Williams’ two goals against Maryland also extended her career goals and points records to 38 and 100, respectively.
“If we wanted to get to the postseason, I needed to score goals, and that was just the bottom line,” Williams said. “I needed to step up for myself, but also for the team to put us in this position.”
Purdue head coach Drew Roff couldn’t overstate how important Williams has been to rebuilding the Purdue team.
“I told her that she is as responsible as any person in our program for getting Purdue back to the postseason and getting our program back to a national level of respect,” Roff said. “She’s our leader, she’s the one that sets the tone. ... When you combine all those facets, she’s just been a very integral part of what we’ve done.”
Tied for seventh going into the final night of the Big Ten season, Purdue was two points ahead of ninth-place Michigan and three points ahead of 10th-place Iowa. Michigan lost to Rutgers, thus eliminating the Wolverines from playoff contention.
Nebraska’s loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night solidified Purdue’s position in seventh place in the Big Ten.
“We had a tough run there, three or four games, and didn’t get the results we wanted,” Roff said. “You always want to have momentum going, and the rough patch, I think we learned from that, and I think that we’re ready to play some of our best soccer.”
The Boilermakers travel to two-seed Northwestern for the quarterfinals on Sunday. The Boilers defeated the Wildcats 2-0 in their only matchup this season.