UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the past 12 seasons, one team has found its name atop the final Big Ten standings in women's soccer. That string of dominance has placed the 13th-ranked Nittany Lions in elite company among the conference's all-time greats.
Should the Lions make it 13 straight conference titles this fall, they will set the all-time Big Ten mark for consecutive conference championships by a women's team. Penn State is currently tied with the Michigan swimming and diving team (1990s) and the current Northwestern women's tennis team.
With lucky No. 13 on the mind, the women's soccer squad is set to open the 2010 season on Friday night with a pivotal matchup at West Virginia. The game will take place at 7 p.m. in Morgantown. Penn State has had its fair share of challenges with West Virginia since the series began in 2003. The Mountaineers own a 4-2 mark over the Lions.
Head coach Erica Walsh kicks off her fourth season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program with a confident group of athletes. Coming off three consecutive NCAA appearances, Coach Walsh is eager to get the 2010 season started on Friday evening.
The Nittany Lions return 17 letterwinners and six starters from the 2009 squad. Among the faces the Lions are looking to replace this fall include All-American forward Katie Schoepfer and All-American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
Senior forward Danielle Toney is the top returning scorer from 2009. Toney finished second on the squad with 32 points and 13 goals last season. Sophomore midfielder Christine Nairn was third in scoring on the 2009 team.
It was announced this week that the Lions will enter the season as the Big Ten preseason favorites again in 2010. The All-Sports Blog stopped by practice on Tuesday afternoon to get our first look at the 2010 version of the women's soccer squad.
On the brink of the 2010 season, expectations are high around the women's soccer locker room. The athletes we spent time talking to have their sights set on a postseason run in 2010.
Penn State opened the preseason with a 5-2 victory over Villanova last weekend. While the scoring attack was potent, the Lions learned a few things on the defensive end of the field at the scrimmage. Coach Walsh and the players we talked to said that a few adjustments are being made on the practice field this week before heading to Morgantown.
With that, we will turn things over to our video preview of the women's soccer team. The All-Sports Blog spent time with co-captains Megan Monroig and Emma Thomson, along with Coach Walsh after Tuesday's practice on the pristine practice field adjacent to Jeffrey Field.
Enjoy the video preview of the 2010 women's soccer team.