The Breakers drafted Harvard alum Margaret “Midge” Purce #9 overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. They made it official by signing her in late March.
TBM caught up with Purce after the Breakers defeated UConn 6-0 in a preseason game in which she played 90 minutes - but with her time split between one half at right forward and one half at right back.
Purce was sanguine about the shift. “It was good,” she said. “A learning experience. It’s always a learning experience whenever I’m on the field. It was really great because I was on the coach’s side so he got to give me a lot of information as I was playing. It’s just such a learning process being with all these girls and with this staff so it was a good experience.”
Part of that learning experience has been settling in with teammates. Though scorelines have been similar across the Breakers’ preseason games (5-1 against Boston College, 5-1 against NEFC Boys, 6-0 against UConn), Purce feels there’s been important development.
“I think a lot of the nerves are out,” she said. “I think people are more comfortable around each other and more relationships on the field are being built. Definitely starting to learn the propensities of some of the players and what they like to do and how they like to play.”
For Purce, at least in that preseason game, she was making connections with center forward Natasha Dowie, as well as second-half goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme. “We’re very opposite players,” Purce said of Dowie, “So we’re still trying to build a relationship but she’s great on and off the field so it’s been wonderful.”
In that preseason game, Dowie was very much the tip of the spear, often receiving a ball through or over the top and either trying to turn and face goal or hold up play until the rest of the formation pushed up. Purce on the other hand several times took the ball straight up the middle or down the wing, beating all comers with speed.
Now that preseason is over, Purce thinks NWSL playoffs are possible. “I want us to win the NWSL championship,” she said. But for all that, she had a levelheadedness about setting such a lofty goal.
“I don’t think anyone walks into the locker room thinking that they’re not trying to win or trying to go as far as possible,” she said. “I do think that it is smart and pragmatic to look at the most immediate task next. So right now of course we’re not thinking about the NWSL championship, we’re thinking about Kansas. And I think it’s just knowing how to process your long term and short term goals properly.”
The Breakers are up against FC Kansas City for their first game of the season, playing away on Sunday, April 16 at 6 PM ET. In the meantime, Purce continues to work with the team and prepare herself. She named midfielder Rosie White as one of the toughest opponents she’s encountered so far from preseason. “I think Rosie’s a trickster,” she said. “She’s really shifty on the ball so I think when I’m defending her, that’s when I’m kind of like, okay turn on the brain.”
But if White is the person who’s caused Purce some of the most problems, it was another player she would turn to in dire straights if stranded on a desert island.
Although first Purce needed more details about this purely hypothetical scenario. “What’s the weather like?” she asked in return when told to pick a single teammate to be stranded with. “What are the other predators? I’d like more context.”
Purce thought a minute when told it was a tropical island with a hurricane season and no real winter. “I would say I would want Christen [Westphal] because she works hard, but she doesn’t eat that much, so we would gather all of the food and I would still have more to sustain myself.”
Purce was confident when she added, “I feel like Hunger Games, I’d win.” She walked it back a little bit when asked if she meant a Hunger Games that included all NWSL players.
“Oh I don’t want to pull NWSL,” she said, laughing. “I’ll say it’s my team. Hunger Games, I’m at least making it to the final four.”