Purdue, ranked 22nd in the nation in the latest NSCAA poll, scored twice in the first nine minutes of the second half as the Boilermakers defeated Valparaiso 3-0 on Wednesday evening in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Crusaders hung tough, playing a scoreless first half, but the nationally-ranked Boilermakers finally found the back of the net during the second 45 minutes.
Purdue looked to strike first 11 minutes into the match. Sylvia Forbes fired a shot from 25 yards out that was heading to the upper portion of the goal, but Crusader goalkeeper Erin Murray (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley HS.) leaped and deflected the shot off of the crossbar for the save.
Three minutes later Murray made another diving stop from point-blank range to stop a shot in the box just 12 yards out off of the foot of Jessica Okoroafo.
Murray made one more big stop just prior to halftime, diving to her left to make her sixth save of the opening 45 minutes, allowing Valpo to enter the half with a scoreless draw.
Purdue outshot Valpo 11-1 during the first half of play but the Crusader defense stayed strong throughout to keep the Boilermakers off of the scoreboard.
“I was pleased with the first half today as we demonstrated how good we can be defensively,” Valpo head coach Stephen Anthony said. “We were under pressure, but we handled Purdue in the first half.”
A foul in the penalty area just 56 seconds into the second half gave Purdue a penalty kick and Shauna Stapleton connected into the right side of the goal a 1-0 lead.
A minute later the Boilermakers hit the crossbar as well as a post in the same attack, but the ball stayed out of the goal.
Purdue made it 2-0 at the 53:48 mark as Loredana Riverso scored on a rebound after Murray made the initial save at the near post.
Sarah Jewell (Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill H.S.) gave Valpo its best scoring chance with 20 minutes remaining in the match, firing a shot from 20 yards out, but Jenny Bradfisch made the save against the left post.
Purdue (4-1-1) added an insurance goal with 1:14 remaining in the match as Sylvia Forbes took a feed in the middle of the box from Okoroafo and found the back of the net with the third goal.
Purdue responded in the second half and their early second goals changed the game and caused us to stretch the game,” Anthony added. “Although we are not satisfied with the results, playing a top-25 team was a positive experience today.”
Murray finished the match with 12 saves for the Crusaders as Purdue outshot Valpo 26-5 on the afternoon. The Boilermakers also had seven corner kick opportunities to one for the Crusaders.
“Erin Murray is a true leader of this team and her play today demonstrated that leadership,” Anthony said. “She was solid all game making big saves for us keeping us in the match. Erin’s play gives this team and coaching staff tremendous confidence which will only allow us to continue to strive towards out goals.”
Valparaiso (3-2) will return home on Friday afternoon as the Crusaders host Belmont. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Eastgate Field.