The Purdue soccer team is hoping to pull out its second win against Northwestern this season tonight in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
The Boilers (4-5-2) and the Wildcats (5-6), both defensive powerhouses, are looking to ramp up their offensive efficiency.
“We’ve only given up 9 goals, which I believe is fourth in the Big Ten,” head coach Drew Roff said. “On the flip side of that, we’ve only scored 9 goals, so that’s a scenario we’re constantly trying to improve.”
This game against the Wildcats marks the beginning of the Big Ten Tournament. Postseason games are exciting because the teams have already played each other earlier in the season, senior forward Hannah Melchiorre said.
“Our whole team is really excited because we really felt like we pulled the result with them last time, but we feel confident and prepared to do the same,” she said.
Five matches ago, in the previous contest between the two, redshirt junior forward Sarah Griffith’s score in the final third pulled the Boilers above the Wildcats in a shutout win. Purdue and Northwestern tallied 8 and 7 shots respectively, but the game ended with a combined score of 1 – a testament to the defensive strength of both.
“In the last game, we got ourselves in a lot of good opportunities to score, but it was just that last touch, or placement, or just composure around the goal,” Melchiorre said. “It comes with experience, too.”
In the meantime, the team has improved its shot-taking ability throughout the season, which could make it strong against Northwestern if the Boilers play efficiently and win an early goal, Goff said.
“If you’re not creating chances, that’s a different situation than creating chances and not finishing,” he said. “I think we’ve progressed to the point where we’re creating more chances than we did in the past.”
Goff said on defense, the Boilers will need to be ready to play in the box to challenge the Wildcats on free kicks and set pieces, but the main focus is getting goals and getting them early.
“They’re always a solid defensive team,” Goff said. “They have good goalkeeping, so when you do get opportunities, you need to take advantage. What it boils down to is we’ve been shut out in the last three matches we’ve played, so the key is getting chances, scoring a goal or two and holding them off.”
Purdue kicks off against Northwestern at 6 p.m. in Madison, Wisconsin. The game can be streamed on BTN+.