Purdue soccer comes off a dominating weekend, with an upset over then-No. 24 Louisville and a win over Western Michigan, to take on Big Ten powerhouse Michigan this Sunday.
In the Boilermakers’ (5-1-1) third shutout of the season, freshman midfielder Aly Mielke and sophomore midfielder Kylie Hase scored goals in the first and second half respectively, with Mielke scoring her first-ever collegiate goal.
Head coach Drew Roff believes in the team’s ability to be competitive after facing off against some of the ranked teams in the conference.
“Our players should be confident that anything we see in the Big Ten (is) going to look relatively similar,” he said. “This team could really do a lot of things in conference play.”
The young team has started to mold into its own skin. High expectations are starting to set onto the team, especially with their impressive record. But with the uncertainties with new players have added to the lineup, there is still progress to be made.
What’s more, the new addition of freshman keeper Marisa Bova into the starting lineup has resulted in eight freshmen holding starting positions. Bova, while relatively young, is a solid shot-stopper and quick on her feet. They don’t have to change the game plan when sophomore keeper Katie Luce is out; to know that they have two goalkeepers that can get the job done in such a key position reassures Roff.
The contingency plan for when Luce returns to her starting goalkeeper position is to maintain a competitive environment, and Bova will continue to get more experience to be better prepared for future games.
Like anyone else, Roff has never heard of any college team starting this many freshman. It presents a unique dynamic where the captains are fostering an environment that empowers young players as they gain experience in their first year as a collegiate athlete.
Every year presents a new challenge, and the message still remains: “They deserve to be out there,” Roff said.
Senior midfielder Hannah Mussallem expressed the confidence that she has for the team, saying, “They are all capable of getting stuff done.”
Though Mussallem recognizes the team’s capability to take on top 25 opponents, she heeds the necessity to take it one step at a time.
Additionally, senior defender Dannah Williams is cleared to play again. However, it won’t be another week or two until she’s able to compete for a spot after readjusting to the speed of the play.