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Maryland women’s soccer vs Purdue preview

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The Terps will look to turn their late momentum last weekend into a full performance against Purdue.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland women’s soccer (0-0-1) will take on the Purdue Boilermakers (0-1-0) in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Thursday as the Terps attempt to move on from a disappointing result in their first match of the season.

Maryland drew 1-1 with Michigan State in Saturday’s season opener, although the result would have been even more drastic had it not been for the late-game heroics of senior forward Mikayla Dayes. A desperation goal from Dayes in the 89th minute saved the Terps from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of a Spartan team voted dead last in the preseason Big Ten coaches’ poll.

“She literally willed it into the goal,” head coach Ray Leone said. “If we can have that as our identity, that we’re going to fight through things no matter how it’s going... then we can have a successful season.”

If anything, the game against Michigan State served as a notice that Maryland is a very different team than the one that made the Big Ten tournament last season. Dayes’ five shots easily led the team, but freshmen Zora Jackson and Catherine DeRosa weren’t far behind, with three and two shots, respectively. In goal, redshirt freshman Kennedy Tolson and sophomore Nicole Kwoczka each played a half, recording two combined saves. The change in goal is a far cry from last year, when now-graduated Erin Seppi held down the fort in goal for the entire season.

Coach Leone is happy to confirm there is a youth movement occurring in Ludwig field.

“When you’re out there playing in the game, it’s all equal,” Leone said. “Freshmen have to play like seniors, that’s how it is.”

Thursday’s game between these two Big Ten teams will air on BTN Plus at 5 p.m. Let’s take a look at what Maryland is up against.

Purdue Boilermakers (0-1-0)

2019 record: 8-9-3 (3-6-2, Big Ten)

Head coach Drew Roff is entering his sixth season at the helm of the Purdue women’s soccer program. Roff has led the Boilermakers to two out of the last three Big Ten tournaments.

Last season, Roff’s squad was one of the major stories of the Big Ten Tournament. Entering as the eighth seed, the Boilermakers upset top-seeded Wisconsin, 1-0, in the first round. The Badgers were ranked seventh in the entire country at the time. Purdue fell in the next round to fourth-seeded Penn State, 2-0.

The Purdue team suffered a 1-0 loss to Illinois in its season opener last Thursday. A goal by the Fighting Illini in the 81st minute negated an otherwise strong game from Boilermakers goalie Marisa Bova. The loss marked the first ever season opener the Boilermakers have lost under Roff.

Players to Know

Redshirt junior forward Sarah Griffith (No. 35) — Griffith is familiar to the Terps as Purdue’s lone goalscorer during last year’s 2-1 loss in College Park. She was second on the team in numerous categories, including goals (three), assists (three), and points (nine). Griffith also led the team in shots (36) and shots on goal (20). Griffith was quiet against Illinois, only scoring two shots, but her role on the team assures that she will be very active on Thursday.

Senior forward Hannah Melchiorre (No. 18) — Melchiorre was the team’s offensive leader last season with four goals and three game-winners. Surprisingly, she didn’t start the season opener against Illinois. In 40 minutes off the bench, she only attempted one shot. Similar to Griffith, expect Melchiorre to have a much better performance on Thursday.

Junior goalie Marisa Bova (No. 44) — Bova’s talent is undisputed. As a sophomore, she started every single minute in goal for the Boilermakers. She ended the season in the top 10 in program history for a single season in shutouts, starts, goals-against average, minutes played, goals allowed, save percentage, and wins. She shut out top-seeded Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, recording six saves on the way to an upset victory.

Against Illinois, Bova recorded six saves in eight shots faced, with the lone goal allowed coming from a play Roff described as “a strange sequence in the box.” She is a formidable opponent for any starting forward, and promises to pose a challenge for Mikayla Dayes and co. on Thursday.

Strength

Defense. Led by Bova, the Boilermakers’ defense posted nine shutouts last season, the most for the team since 2007. The shutouts weren’t just against the bottom of the Big Ten: they included ranked squads Iowa and Wisconsin.

Defensive midfielder Grace Walsh was one of three Boilermakers (along with Bova and Griffith) named to the Big Ten Players to Watch List. Walsh is a key piece of a rough-and-tumble defense that has helped Purdue earn a name in the Big Ten.

“They’re very organized defensively. They’re fighters,” said Ray Leone.

Weakness

Foul trouble. The Boilermakers were booked for 219 fouls last season. By comparison, their opponents only committed 178.

Purdue’s tendency to get on the referees’ bad side was especially evident on set pieces. The Boilermakers had 17 less corner kicks than opponents and gave up two penalty kick goals, while shooting zero penalties themselves. Purdue also tallied 12 yellow cards, compared to eight from opponents.

All in all, fouls got Purdue into trouble too many times last season. In the season opener, it committed two less fouls than Illinois, perhaps signifying the team’s attempt to break away from a troubling trend.

Three Things to Watch

1. How will young players effect the game? Maryland isn’t the only team with youth on its side. Purdue was led in shots against Illinois by freshman forward Nicole Kevdzija. Kevdzija was joined in the starting lineup by two other freshmen, midfielders Victoria Kevdzija and Emily Mathews. The Boilermakers and Terps are both teams with bright futures, and it will be interesting to see how the teams’ youngsters clash.

2. Who will score? Both Maryland and Purdue started the season with scoring troubles. If it wasn’t for Dayes’ miracle goal, both teams would have suffered a 1-0 loss in their season opener. Even after Dayes’ goal, the Terps were unable to get any offense going in 20 minutes of overtime. In order for either of these teams to be successful, someone has to step up and score. Whether that’s Dayes for Maryland, Griffith for Purdue, or someone less unexpected, both these teams are trying to shake off the rust and put the ball in the back of the net.

3. Can Maryland’s goalies hang around? The biggest difference between these two squads is in goal. On one side, there’s Marisa Bova, an entrenched starter with a stellar track record. On the other, there’s Tolson and Kwoczka, two inexperienced players battling for starting time. If both teams continue their offensive struggles, the match will likely come down to who has the better goalie play. Will Kwoczka or Tolson be able to stand up to the task?