Boilermakers Edged in Hard-Fought B1G Opener
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In a tightly-contested battle to open Big Ten Conference play, the Purdue soccer team was edged by No. 18 Northwestern 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at Folk Field.
The Boilermakers played right with the 18th-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats for the duration of the 90-minute contest, but a goal in the 57th minute proved to be the difference. NU’s score came after a red card was shown to Purdue to set up the goal-scoring free kick.
The Boilermakers (3-6-0, 0-1-0 Big Ten) played the final 34 minutes down a player but continued to fight for chances and earn opportunities up until the final whistle. However, the Wildcats (7-0-2, 1-0-0 Big Ten) prevented the home side from getting the equalizer.
Purdue out-shot Northwestern 10-9, and both teams had three shots on goal. The Boilermakers held a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks while NU had 11 fouls called against them to the home side’s 10. Two yellow cards also were issued to the Wildcats.
Freshman forward Lauren Omholt had a game-high-tying three shots, with a game-best two shots on target. Senior midfielder Emily Mathews and junior forward Gracie Dunaway each recorded two shots, with one of Mathews’ going on goal. Senior goalkeeper Charlotte Cyr and sophomore goalkeeper Kailey Kimball each made one save, and NU’s keeper stopped all three shots she faced.
Sunday’s conference-opener came after both Northwestern and Purdue had a week off from competition. Of the Wildcats’ seven wins, today was just their second with a one-goal margin of victory. No. 18 NU is the Boilermakers’ fourth top-25 opponent through their opening nine games of the 2023 campaign.
Prior to the game, Purdue recognized its senior class of Cyr, Mathews, Zoie Allen, Kelsi Carrico, Lauren Holleran, Callie Ingram, Nicole Kevdzija and Victoria Kevdzija. At halftime, Boilermaker soccer alumnae were honored on the field to cap the Alumnae Reunion Weekend.
The home side had several good chances in the opening 15-plus minutes, as Dunaway sent a shot wide in the fifth. Ten minutes later, Omholt received a great ball on the right side, but the defense prevented an open attacker on her centering pass. The next minute, Dunaway beat a defender to send a cross in from near the end line on the right side, but the ball was corralled by the Wildcat keeper.
Northwestern’s first shot came in the 28th minute, which was wide on a chance from inside the six.
Dunaway quickly answered with a shot blocked from point-blank range in the 29th minute. A great save by NU followed in the 31st minute, as Omholt, from junior forward Megan Hutchinson, sent a shot in that just barely was stopped before it trickled through the goalkeeper’s legs.
Freshman defender Zoe Cuneio and the Boilermaker defense had several key blocks in the 35th and 36th minutes to prevent the first Northwestern shot on goal. Purdue had another great opportunity two minutes later off a Mathews corner kick to the far post, but a pair of shots were blocked in the congested six-yard box.
Cyr’s one save of the game came in the 43rd minute, on a shot off a free kick into the penalty area.
Purdue out-shot Northwestern 5-4 in the opening 45 minutes, and both teams put one shot on target. The Old Gold and Black registered the only two corner kicks of the period.
Minutes into the second half, midfielder Nicole Kevdzija had a header off a corner kick that was just high to nearly give Purdue the lead.
Northwestern took a 1-0 advantage at 56:21 as Caterina Regazzoni scored on a free kick from just outside the 18. The set-piece goal came after Cyr was shown a red card when she came out to play the ball outside of the penalty area and it deflected off her hands.
The Boilermakers looked to respond quickly, as Omholt had a one-on-one opportunity at the top of the box saved in the 60th minute on another nice play by NU’s goalkeeper.
Several more chances followed, including one off a free kick by Mathews in the 68th minute that followed a yellow card, before Omholt had another one-on-one chance. This time her shot, in the 83rd minute, was wide after a great pass on the run from Nicole Kevdzija.
The Boilermakers continued to fight for chances until time expired. That included a shot by Mathews in the 86th minute that was saved.
Up next, Purdue is on the road for a pair of Big Ten contests. The east coast swing begins at Maryland on Thursday, September 21, at 7 p.m. ET, and concludes at Rutgers on September 24.