The No. 2-seed Purdue soccer team finished one of the most important games of one of its best seasons since 2007 with a flurry of defensive lapses in a 4-1 loss to the No. 6-seed Michigan Wolverines Thursday night.
Whether it be a lack of communication or blown assignments, the Boilermakers failed to contain Michigan’s aggressive offense.
At a neutral field in Piscataway, New Jersey, the lack of a crowd left a quieter atmosphere. The Wolverines seemed to bring their own energy to Yurcak Field, starting the game off strong by pinning the Boilers back in their half of the field with their pressure and ball control throughout the first half.
Senior goalie Marisa Bova said the Boilers hadn’t shown all their defensive cards yet in a Tuesday interview. It didn’t matter what card they drew or played today: None were the ace they needed.
Michigan came out swinging for the fences with a wide variety of close-range shots. Each goal piled on top of the last, and with Purdue unable to maintain possession, the team's hopes of a tournament championship appearance dwindled with every passing minute.
The Wolverines forwards took turns taking shots, with a different player scoring on each of their four goals.
After a shot that doinked off the goal post, Michigan midfielder Meredith Haakenson found an easy one-on-one shot against Bova for the first goal about 26 minutes into the game.
Fourteen minutes later, Wolverine forward Hannah Blake became the second Michigan player to connect with the back of the net after zooming past the Purdue defense to control a volley. The move ultimately led to another one-on-one opportunity on Bova, which ended in a 2-0 lead for Michigan.
Head coach Drew Roff said at halftime he told his team they needed to make a few small adjustments and try to make it an exciting game.
“We haven’t been down 2-0 very often,” Roff said. “I just said, ‘Keep your head up, let's fix this, let's come back stronger and correct a few things.’”
2-0 turned into 3-0 within five minutes of the start of the second half after sophomore defender Nicole Kevdzija was called for a handball, leaving forward Dani Wolfe to score on the penalty kick. The Michigan onslaught continued two minutes after that, as Michigan midfielder Nicki Hernandez drove the dagger shot on the final Wolverine goal of the day.
Purdue’s offensive leader, fifth year forward Sarah Griffith, could not find her offensive rhythm the entire game. Her one opportunity midway through the first half was stuffed by Michigan’s goalie Hillary Beall.
Her one shot attempt tied her season low, and fell four attempts short of her season average.
Luckily for the Boilers, sophomore forward Callie Ingram scored in the final 10 minutes to avoid an embarrassing shut out.
While this game ends the Boilermaker’s dreams at a Big Ten tournament title, they still have an opportunity to run the table in the NCAA tournament.
Purdue will look ahead to the NCAA tournament when the Association announces its tournament seedings on Monday. Fans can watch the Boilermakers take their place at 4:30 p.m. on an NCAA stream.