There’s no talk of standings. No tournament seeds. No points.
Both the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers have been mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament.
What’s on the line at 7 p.m. in West Lafayette is the Golden Boot and bragging rights.
To IU Coach Amy Berbary, that’s incentive enough.
“I don’t think there’s any motivational speech I can give,” Berbary said. “If you can’t get up for this game, I’m not sure you have something beating in your chest.”
The Boilermakers lead the all-time regular-season series 10-3-2, but IU has claimed the Golden Boot traveling trophy the last two seasons.
The Golden Boot came to fruition in 2002 as an extra incentive to increase the significance of the in-state rivalry.
After each game, the winning team gets to add the school’s letter to the chain and take the trophy home.
The last two chain letters belong to the Hoosiers.
By all measures, the 2014 season has been a step back for an IU team that last year advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament while setting numerous program records.
Berbary put some of the blame on having a roster turnover that left IU with a number of very good players but not a single outstanding player IU could lean on during critical moments.
IU’s lack of a star player capable of taking control of games is partly why the Hoosiers have lost six games by just one goal and managed only one Big Ten win.
Senior midfielder Jordan Woolums said she thinks IU hasn’t always played to its full potential.
“We haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted and I think we could have gotten,” Woolums said. “Our record shows one win in the Big Ten, and I don’t think that’s a very good representation of our team.”
IU will get a chance to play to that full potential at Purdue, where IU won for the first time last season.
Despite the last two games having no long-lasting impact, Berbary said she doesn’t intend to deviate her lineups from what she has been using.
And although the Hoosiers won’t be playing soccer in November, Berbary said that’s no excuse to lay down.
At practice Wednesday, that goal was clear.
The coaching staff made sure to leave the Golden Boot sitting in plain sight at the practice field.
“We’re playing for our pride, we’re playing for Indiana and we’re playing for that Golden Boot,” Berbary said. “We’ve just got to go out there and get it.”