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Gold and Black Illustrated Vol28, Digital1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1 70 to go, and helps us have a big season to get Purdue soccer back to where it belongs.' " It's been a rough go of late. In try- ing to rebuild a program that once went to the NCAA Tournament six times in an eight-year span (2002- 09), including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2003, Roff has gradually molded the Boilermakers into the aggressive, attacking group he prefers. But the effort took a sidetrack last season, particularly after Williams, Purdue's fifth-leading goal scorer all-time (24) entering this season, was lost to injury on the final prac- tice of the previous spring. It sapped the Boilermakers of their top goal-scorer, and the results might have been predictable; Purdue finished only 4-12-1 last season, in- cluding a 2-8-1 mark in the Big Ten. "We've worked really hard over the spring in getting the right culture and now we're putting it on the field," Korolas said. "We have a lot of experi- ence in terms of minutes on the field, and playing with each other for four years, knowing where we're going to be, like (finding each other) on runs." But Purdue will have to overcome mental hurdles, not just physical ones. It happens when a program has had difficult times — Purdue's not finished better than 10th in the Big Ten since 2011 — but there are signs the Boilermakers might be getting mentally right. Purdue split its first two games of the season, upending Kent State on opening night Aug. 19 2-1, then fall- ing to Loyola Marymount two days later, giving up two goals in the fi- nal six minutes. In the opener, not only did Williams score her first goal Canadian Connection V anessa Korolas felt a little apprehensive. The Canadian didn't want her club teammate, Andrea Petrina, to feel like she was only following her along to Purdue, perhaps stealing a bit of the limelight by also signing with the Power 5 school in the Big Ten. So Korolas gave her a call to see if it was OK. "She was a little nervous and asked me," Petrina said. "And I was like, 'Of course.' We're great friends. I thought it was a good addition, made for an easier transition." Purdue is glad for it. The Ontario natives — Korolas is from Mississauga while Petrina is from Hamilton — are two of only a handful of seniors for the Boiler- makers. The two are captains, along with fifth-year senior Maddy Wil- liams and Erika Yohn, who will need to lead a big group of 12 freshmen. They have the experience to gain the respect of their teammates; Korolas, a defender, has started 54 consecutive games, dating back to the start of the 2014 season, while Petrina, a midfielder, has 35 starts in the same span. "As our program has been in tran- sition these last couple years, what you really hope for is that you have a handful of players who you can count on to set the standard, play- ers that you know are going to be in the starting lineup as long as they're healthy," third-year coach Drew Roff said. "Vanessa and (Andrea) have provided us that consistency that we really needed. They've been defi- nitely two of the bright spots the last couple seasons, and it's really ex- citing to watch them grow over the last couple years and I know they've invested a lot into their senior sea- sons. "Just to see the way that they've welcomed the freshmen class and empowered it says a great deal about their character and says a great deal about how much they want to win. They're at the point in their careers where they've gotten a lot of min- utes and they've played some great soccer but for them it's all about the team success and they're will- ing to do whatever they can to get us to where we want to go. When you have team leaders like that, you can't help but be very optimistic for the season." Korolas and Petrina are in a long line of Canadians who played for the Boilermakers, the most no- table being Lauren Sessellmann, who played at Purdue from 2001- 05, then for the Canadian National Team starting in 2011. Freshman Hannah Melchiorre is the latest Canadian Boilermaker, hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario. They came because of the chance to play against the best in the world. "In my opinion, America has (presented) more of an opportu- nity to play soccer," Korolas said. "It's a really big part of my life and I wanted to take the next step. I felt like coming to America would real- ly help with that." — Kyle Charters

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