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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 78 an unbalanced roster. This year he has 12 seniors, not in- cluding the redshirting Maddy Williams, and nine fresh- men to go along with just five juniors and four sophomores. Roff admits it will take some time, maybe even until 2020, to get the classes balanced, but he likes that he has a lot of leadership on the 2016 squad. "Our seniors are motivated since they have yet to taste being in the postseason," Roff said. "We tell them, 'We saved the best for last.'" Yet, Roff doesn't believe just because a player is a senior guarantees she is a leader. He knows a culture must be de- veloped throughout the program and has instituted a lead- ership council (of sorts) with six players representing all stages of eligibility. Still, to make sure all oars are rowing in the same direction, he and his staff meet with all players on a one-on-one basis each week. Leadership is key, but so is having a friendlier sched- ule than 2015's. This year, the Boilermakers benefit from playing six of 11 conference matches at their newly named home, Folk Field. But the league is loaded. In the Big Ten's preseason poll, defending NCAA champion and perennial league heavyweight Penn State was once again tabbed as the team to beat. Rutgers was picked second after reach- ing the Big Ten Tournament title game and later the NCAA College Cup, losing to the Nittany Lions at both marquee events, a year ago. The Boilermakers played both teams tough at home last season, battling Rutgers to a scoreless draw and hold- ing the lead in the second half vs. Penn State. A Sept. 1 non-conference game at top-10-ranked West Virginia joins return visits to Happy Valley and New Jersey as Purdue's toughest road tests this year. The Boilermakers also visit Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa. Purdue was predicted to finish 11th in the preseason poll and needs to finish in the top eight to make the Big Ten Tournament. It will likely come down to how Purdue fares against teams predicted to finish in the 5 through 10 spots in the conference. That group includes Ohio State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan State, as well as Nebraska, one of the Boilermakers' non-plays this year along with Michigan. "The Big Ten is very competitive as always and we have some big tests before Big Ten play such as at West Virgin- ia," Roff said before an opening weekend overtime loss to Montana. "That certainly will let us know early on where we stand. But our ability to make the postseason will likely come down to the last couple weekends, and the fact we have four of our last five matches at home certainly won't hurt us. "We have been building on the momentum since the end of last year. It has carried through spring and the early part of fall, so that puts us in a good spot. It won't be easy, but I think we can be up to the challenge." j First show is Sept. 2 Scheduled guests is Mike Bobinski, new athletic director 2 P.M. FRIDAYS Gold and Black LIVE featuring the staff of Interactive live video-stream sports talk show — ask questions, chat with other fans! For schedule visit the college page on Trent Johnson, Agent

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