What exactly is #J2NC13? It's actually quite simple. The hash tag stands for Journey to the National Championship 2013. This combination of letters and numbers is the symbol of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that will compose the Penn State Women's Soccer Team's quest to win the 2013 NCAA National Championship. In fact, the journey has already begun. It started the moment the 2012 season ended with a devastating loss to North Carolina in the National Championships. We returned to State College hungrier than ever, and this time we won't be stopped.
You might be asking yourself why #J2NC13 is relevant to you. That's easy! As a member of the team, I can't stress enough how much the support of every single Penn Stater makes a difference. One more voice cheering us on at Jeffrey (our incredible soccer stadium) is one more vote of faith that keeps us going when we have nothing left to give. We are already lucky enough to have some incredible fans, but we know there are so many more on campus who have yet to become a part of the journey!
As you get ready to pack up the books and lather on the sunscreen for summer, I want you to keep #J2NC13 in the back of your mind. The Penn State Women's Soccer Team will be spending its summer sweating and sprinting its way toward #J2NC13, so when you return next fall be sure to lend your support! You have the opportunity to continue the Penn State tradition of excellence by helping us achieve our goal of winning our first ever National Championship (as well as another opportunity to tailgate), so I don't want to hear any excuses. It's in your hands now, I expect you to pass #J2NC13 along and show some pride in your university's women's soccer team!
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Associate Head Coach Ann Cook and
former player and now Nebraska Assistant Coach Bri Garcia had an opportunity
during spring break to travel across seas for Soccer Without Borders this
Soccer Without Borders is a 501c3 non-profit
that runs community-led, year-round, youth development programs in under-served
areas in the USA and abroad. They provide programming to youth who are
traditionally excluded from sports-based and extracurricular activities. The
programs provide participants with an avenue for positive engagement, a
platform for personal growth, and a toolkit for a brighter future.
A total of 16 former NCAA players
representing eight conferences across three divisions headed to Nicaragua in
February to implement the first phase of a two-way exchange. The first phase
took a dual approach of exposing as many girls as possible to soccer through
clinics and school visits, and supporting the growth of soccer opportunities
for girls through coaches trainings and promotion. The exchange builds on the
success of our year-round efforts in Granada by expanding our reach to the
cities of Diriamba and Managua. Made possible through the US State
Department's SportsUnited Division, in partnership with the US Embassy in
Managua and FENIFUT (Nicaraguan Football Federation), the exchange team
coached nearly 800 girls, trained more than 45 coaches, and played two friendly
matches against the Nicaraguan Women's National Team.
out some photos from Cook and Garcia's experience in Nicaragua.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's
soccer team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.
THON 2013 raised a record
$12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to
the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and
to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 41st IFC/Panhellenic
Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.
More than 700 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down
or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against
pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund
at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering
childhood cancer. THON went to new heights on Sunday when a record
of more than $12.37 million was raised for 2013. To
date, more than $100 million has been raised by THON.
Several Penn State student-athletes spent 46 hours on their feet in the annual dance
marathon. Representing the Student
Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were Kristin Carpenter from the women's
volleyball team and Annie Abdo from the field hockey squad. Katlyn Elliott from women's golf and Marika
Racibarskas from women's volleyball represented Penn State Hockey this
Hammershlag and Nicole Symeonides from the Lionetts squad and Paige McManus and
Nicole Camporeale from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.
Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout
the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally
and team dance competition.
We would also like to
wish GoPSUsports.com student writers Matt Allibone and Kelsey Detweiler, along
with Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Angelis Lau the best
of luck as they dance over the weekend, and the several student assistants
actively involved with THON.
From start to finish, take a look through the updates from the involvement Penn State Athletics had in THON over the weekend on GoPSUsports.com.
4:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pre-Dancing Interviews with Student-Athletes Just over one hour from beginning the quest of spending 46-straight hours on their feet, we caught up with Marika Racibarskas from women's volleyball and Katlyn Elliott from women's golf for their final thoughts before the start of THON 2013.
5 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Chambers Addresses Crowd, Donates $14,200 Head coach Patrick Chambers pledged to donate $10 to THON 2013 for every student in attendance at Penn State's clash against Iowa on Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center. On Friday evening, just before heading to the airport with the Nittany Lions for their trip to Michigan, Chambers addressed the crowd at THON and presented a check for $14,200. Take a look.
Saturday Coverage: 8 a.m. - VIDEO: Hour 14 Interviews from Penn State Athletics Dancers GoPSUsports.com caught up with women's volleyball student-athletes and 2013 dancers Marika Racibarskas and Kristin Carpenter just before 8 a.m. on Saturday morning for an update on how things were going 14 hours into the 46-hour dance marathon. Additionally, we talked with GoPSUsports.com student writer and broadcaster Kelsey Detweiler, who is also dancing, for an update. In addition to an interview, we asked all three what time they felt like it was. Dancers are normally asked to avoid looking at the clock, and they rarely know what time it is. Take a look at an hour 14 update from three Penn State Athletics representatives dancing in THON for the fight against pediatric cancer.
2 p.m. - VIDEO: Football Hosts THON Make-A-Wish Event Seventy members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed 28 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.
The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a photo in the locker room.
Head coach Bill O'Brien spoke to the group after it received the facility tour and signed autographs with the THON kids. Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.
4:10 p.m. - PHOTO - Teams Participate in Athlete Hour Student-athletes from across Penn State Athletics spent time with THON families and children inside the practice gym of the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon for Athlete Hour.
10:10 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 11 different teams competed in the 2013 version of the dance-off.
With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition, largely thanks to its use of a prop pool to create a swimming scene mid-dance. We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. Take a look.
Sunday Coverage: 12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Addresses THON 2013 Head coach Bill O'Brien took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to push through the "fourth quarter" of the 46-hour marathon. O'Brien spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Take a look.
4:12 p.m. - VIDEO: THON 2013 Reveal - $12,374,034.46 THON 2013 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $12,374,034.46 for fight against pediatric cancer. Watch a truly inspiring moment in front of a capacity crowd in the Bryce Jordan Center during the revealing of this year's total. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2013.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As we get set to ring in
the New Year, GoPSUsports.com would like to announce, as voted on by the Penn
State fans, the football and women's soccer squads as the 2012 Penn State Teams
of the Year. Additionally, the football
team's senior day victory over Wisconsin was voted as the No. 1 Penn State
Sporting Event of 2012.
The 2012 calendar year was a tremendous one for Penn State's sports teams. The results speak for themselves, and all 31
Penn State teams across the University Park campus should be recognized for
their efforts in 2012. The long list of
achievements on the field of play include one national title, seven Big Ten
titles, and in the classroom, more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
No team in any sport across the country weathered an offseason with more
challenges than the Nittany Lion football team.
Without the 31-member senior class' leadership, it is hard to imagine how
the 2012 football season would have gone.
Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich spearheaded the effort to keep the
team intact when the NCAA announcement came out on July 23. The seniors set the standard for how the team
was going to approach every day with a workmanlike attitude.
The Nittany Lions started the 2012 season 0-2 following a last-second loss at
they caught fire in the latter stages of September. Penn State rattled off five-straight
victories en route to winning eight of its final 10 games, including six in the
Big Ten. The Nittany Lions finished
second in the Big Ten Leaders Division.
Under the direction of Maxwell Football Club's
Collegiate Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year Bill O'Brien, Penn
State set the standard for hard work, attitude and perseverance in 2012. O'Brien's leadership set the stage for a
hard-working, gritty style of play Penn State fans grew accustomed to every
Saturday throughout the fall.
"I think we did a really good job of playing together," O'Brien said. "Our players did a great job buying into how
offense, defense and special teams work together. We showed that to the players on film that
here's how it works when it goes well and here's how it works when it doesn't
go well. The mantra is One Team."
O'Brien engineered a dynamic, fast-paced offense that featured the Big Ten's
passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a running back (Zach Zwinak)
who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games and 1,000 yards for the
season. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference
games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense
(283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season.
Penn State gained more than 500 yards of total offense three times in
conference play, topped by 546 yards vs. Indiana, its highest total against a
Big Ten foe since gaining 557 yards against Michigan State in 2008.
The 2012 Nittany Lions had two All-Americans (Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti),
six first-team All-Big Ten selections and three individual conference award
winners: Michael Mauti - Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year; Allen
Robinson - Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year; Deion Barnes -
Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
The Nittany Lions saved their best game for last. On a snowy November afternoon in Beaver
Stadium, it would have been hard to script a better finish for the 2012
team. A senior class that will forever
be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of
success it achieved, even on its special day.
After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior
class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin.
The Lions roared back to take a 21-14 lead until the final 18 seconds of the
game when the Badgers sent the contest into overtime with a late score. Sam Ficken's leg put Penn State up 24-21 in
OT before a missed field goal preserved the Senior Day win. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill was the star of
the show. Hill was simply not going to
let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles in dominant
fashion. Penn State walked off the field
following a superb season into a locker room scene it will remember forever.
Penn State won five Big Ten championships and had five coaches selected conference
coach of the year during the fall season alone.
Among the teams on the list was the 15-time defending Big Ten champion
women's soccer team. Under the direction
of Big Ten Coach of the Year Erica Walsh, the women's soccer team turned in the
most successful campaign in the program's illustrious history in 2012.
Walsh and the Nittany Lions finished 21-4-2, which included a march to the
College Cup Final for the first time in program history. The road to the fourth College Cup in school
history featured dramatic wins over Michigan in shootout for the ages and an
overtime game-winner from senior Christine Nairn against Florida State in the
College Cup Semifinals.
Nairn and junior Maya Hayes earned NSCAA First Team All America honors. Nairn, Hayes and Whitney Church were named
First Team All-Big Ten. Standout
freshman midfielder Raquel Rodriguez earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year
The Nittany Lions move into
the offseason with a great deal of motivation after coming up short in the
College Cup Final, but the 2012 team took the program to new heights and laid
the groundwork for what is going to be a bright future ahead for Penn State
"To put it all in perspective, I would say
imagine a year, one year from now, you set a goal for yourself and you work
towards it every day to the best of your ability and then you actually achieve
that goal," said coach Walsh. "You
realize as its going on that you control the things that you can control, but
there's so much in your sport that's outside of your control that when it does
come together, you got to cherish it.
You got to live it and love it."
Thank you to all of the Penn State fans for making 2012 an outstanding
year. We wish you the best in 2013, and
we are looking forward to seeing you on campus soon.
Watch a pair of videos to look back on the teams of 2012 and the event of the
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 calendar year was one marked by
excellence and achievement from numerous Penn State teams.
As we close in on the final days of 2012, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take time
and reflect on a tremendous year for Penn State Athletics. The hiring of head coach Bill O'Brien on Jan.
6, in many ways, set a tone for the athletic department throughout the calendar
year. O'Brien's introductory press
conference highlighted a clear vision for how the football program would try to
do its part in helping the athletic department move forward as One Team.
The results speak for themselves, and all 31 Penn State teams across the
University Park campus should be recognized for their efforts in 2012. The list of achievements on the field of play,
including one national title and seven Big Ten titles, and in the classroom,
including more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, is tremendous.
The spring season included a Big Ten and NCAA title from the wrestling team for
second-straight season. Three Nittany
Lion wrestlers - Frank Molinaro, David Taylor and Ed Ruth - won individual
national titles. The Lady Lions, who
clinched a Big Ten title on the BJC hardwood in February, earned a spot in the
Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history. The men's volleyball team earned a trip to
the NCAA National Semifinals for the 27th time.
The women's lacrosse team reached the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Additionally, 171 Penn State student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten
accolades during the winter and spring seasons.
Men's gymnastics' Miguel Pineda was named a first Academic All-American.
The fall campaign was one for the Penn State record books. Penn State won five Big Ten championships and
had five coaches selected conference coach of the year. The field hockey team (Char Morett) won the
Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the men's soccer team (Bob
Warming), women's soccer (Erica Walsh) and women's volleyball (Russ Rose) teams
all won Big Ten championships.
Additionally, after leading the Nittany Lion football team to an 8-4
campaign, including six Big Ten wins, Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of
In postseason competition, the women's soccer team reached the NCAA College Cup
Final for the first time in program history.
The women's volleyball team played in the NCAA National Semifinals for
the 10th time in school history. The
women's cross country team captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional crown on its
The story was much of the same in the classroom. A fall record 100 Penn State student-athletes
achieved Academic All-Big Ten recognition this semester, including a trio of
4.0 students - football's John Urschel, women's volleyball's Maggie Harding and
women's cross country's Katie Rodden.
Football's Pete Massaro and Urschel earned first team Academic
All-America honors. Harding won the
Elite 89 Award for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship for having the highest
cumulative grade point average of student-athletes participating in the
With so many events to choose from, narrowing down the list of outstanding Penn
State sporting events from 2012 to just 10 was a challenge, but here are your
10 nominees for the top sporting event of the outstanding 2012 calendar year
for Penn State Athletics.
From now until Dec. 28, cast your vote for the top event of the year.
Freshman phenom Robby Creese etched his place in Penn State history by becoming
just the third athlete in school history to break the four-minute barrier in
the mile run at the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington. Riding the wave of momentum following a
superb start to his first indoor track season in Happy Valley, Creese ran a
3:59.52 mile, which was the second fastest in Penn State indoor track
history. Creese joined Ryan Foster and
Larry Mangan as the only three Nittany Lions to crack four minutes.
Wrestling Clinches Second-Straight NCAA
Title March 17, 2012 - St. Louis, Mo. -
Penn State Clinches NCAA Championship
Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Penn State wrestling team reached the
mountain top of the wrestling world for the second-straight season with a truly
dominant performance at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions mathematically clinched
their third all-time team national title during the morning session inside the
Scottrade Center on final day of competition at the three-day tournament. Penn State put icing on the cake with three
individual national champions, including senior Frank Molinaro (149), sophomore
David Taylor (165) and sophomore Ed Ruth (174), who finished the 2011-'12
season with a combined record of 88-0.
Penn State cleared second-place Minnesota by 26.5 points in the final
Women's Basketball Beats LSU for Sweet
Sixteen Berth March 21, 2012 - Baton Rouge, La. -
Penn State 90, LSU 80
When the 2012 NCAA Tournament draw was released, the fourth-seeded Lady
Lions knew their road to the Sweet Sixteen would likely include a clash against
fifth-seeded LSU on its home floor. The
Big Ten regular season champion Lions dispatched UTEP in the first round in
Baton Rouge, setting up a showdown with the host Tigers for a trip to the Sweet
Sixteen. LSU led 37-36 at halftime
before claiming a 50-44 edge in the second half. However scoring runs of 9-2 and 8-2 from Penn
State in in the second half, along with a 30-point night from Maggie Lucas
fueled the Lions for a 90-80 victory over LSU in a hostile Maravich
Center. The Lady Lion victory sent Penn
State into the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.
Men's Volleyball Tops George Mason for
14th-Straight EIVA Crown April 28, 2012 - Rec Hall - Penn
State 3, George Mason 1
Penn State's string of success in the EIVA is unmatched. On the heels of the heels of claiming the
best record in the conference in 2012, Penn State earned the luxury of hosting
the championship match on its home floor.
The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions used 15 kills from Joe Sunder and 11
kills from freshman Aaron Russell to claim a 3-1 victory over George Mason in
the EIVA title match inside Rec Hall.
The Lions quickly built a 2-0 lead after a strong start to the match,
but George Mason answered by winning the third set. Nonetheless, Penn State erased a 12-9 Patriot
lead in the fourth set en route to the victory, automatic bid in the national
semifinals and its 27th appearance in the NCAA Championship.
Football Downs Navy for Bill O'Brien's
First Win September 15, 2012 - Beaver Stadium -
Penn State 34, Navy 7
Following an 0-2 start to the 2012 season, the Nittany Lion football team had
one of the best practices of its season on the Monday of Navy week. Penn State did not look back from there. Led by three touchdowns from standout
sophomore receiver Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions rolled past Navy, 34-7, en
route to the first victory for head coach Bill O'Brien. The Lions led 20-0 at halftime following a
pair of Robinson scores and a third touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to Jesse
James. McGloin finished with four
touchdown passes, and sophomore Mike Hull put an exclamation point on the
victory with a 74-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second half. O'Brien received a shower of water when the
clock ticked to 0:00, and the win kick-started a string of five-straight
victories for the Nittany Lions.
Field Hockey Shuts Out Michigan for Big
Ten Title Sweep November 4, 2012 - Iowa City, Iowa -
Penn State 2, Michigan 0
On the heels of winning the Big Ten regular season title, the Nittany Lion
field hockey team capped off an impressive run through the postseason
tournament draw with a dominant defensive performance against third-seeded
Michigan. Standout senior forward Kelsey
Amy tallied both of Penn State's goals to lead the Nittany Lions to a 2-0
victory over the Wolverines and their second-straight Big Ten Tournament
championship. Senior goalkeeper Ayla
Halus notched three saves and earned her fourth shutout of the season. The victory boosted the Lions into hosting
NCAA Tournament competition for second time in three seasons.
Women's Cross Country Claims NCAA
Regional Title on Home Course November 9, 2012 - Blue/White Course
- Penn State Clinches NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional
There is no better motivation for a team to enter a season knowing it has an
opportunity to host postseason competition at home. When the Nittany Lion cross country team
began its formal preparations for 2012 at the end of the summer, it knew the
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals loomed on the Blue/White Course loomed in early
November. Penn State took full advantage
of the opportunity and unseasonably warm weather to edge No. 9 and defending
NCAA champion Georgetown (61-63) for a victory.
Junior Victoria Perri and senior Brooklyne Ridder led the way with
fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively.
The Lions went on to finish 14th at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.
Football Ousts Wisconsin on Senior Day
to Remember November 24, 2012 - Beaver Stadium -
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 OT
It would have been hard to script a better ending to the 2012 football
season. A senior class that will forever
be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of
success it achieved, even on its special day.
After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior
class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin. The Lions rallied back to take a 21-14 lead
until the final 18 seconds of the game when the Badgers sent the contest into
overtime with a late score. Sam Ficken's
leg put Penn State up 24-21 in OT before a missed field goal preserved the
Senior Day win. Defensive tackle Jordan
Hill was the star of the show. Hill was
simply not going to let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles
in dominant fashion.
Women's Soccer Edges Florida State in
Dramatic Fashion for first Trip to College Cup Final November 30, 2012 - San Diego, Calif.
- Penn State 2, Florida State 1 OT
After winning its 15th-straight Big Ten title, the Nittany Lion women's soccer
team etched its place in program history with a remarkable run through the NCAA
Tournament. But the string of postseason
victories will be trademarked by a soggy night in San Diego on the final day of
November. The Nittany Lions had been to
the College Cup three times before their trip to the West Coast, but never to
the College Cup Final. Senior midfielder
Christine Nairn changed that with an overtime goal that will live in Penn State
women's soccer lore forever. After
taking a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, Penn State held on until the final 48
seconds when Florida State tied the contest in improbable fashion. Nevertheless, Penn State's senior class was
not going to let the season end. A long
pass from Maddy Evans on the right wing into the box set up Nairn's tap-in,
game-winner from six yards out, sending Nittany Lion women's soccer into the
College Cup Final for the first time in program history.
Women's Volleyball Punches Ticket to
10th NCAA Semifinal December 8, 2012 - West Lafayette,
Ind. - Penn State 3, Minnesota 1
Faced with the task of needing a third victory over the same team to earn a
spot in the NCAA National Semifinals, the top-seeded and Big Ten champion
Nittany Lion women's volleyball team entered its regional final match in
Purdue's Mackey Arena focused on the task at hand. Penn State built a 5-0 lead over
eighth-seeded Minnesota in set one en route to a 1-0 lead in the match. No strangers to adversity, though, the
Nittany Lions dropped set two and found themselves in a 23-21 deficit in the
third set. Just two points from going
down 2-1 in the match, Penn State answered.
Micha Hancock and Deja McClendon combined for four-straight tallies to
make it 25-24 before Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott finished the match
with a kill, punching Penn State's ticket into the NCAA Semifinals for the
fifth time in six season and the 10th time in school history.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State entered the 2012 soccer season with one
goal in mind: play for a College
Cup. The standard was set and the result
was a team that ventured further than any in program history, reaching the
National Championship game in San Diego.
It was a historic season and, in summary, head coach Erica Walsh described
it simply as the pure satisfaction of achieving a goal after an entire year of relentless
hard work and dedication.
"To put it all in perspective, I would say imagine a year, one year from
now, you set a goal for yourself and you work towards it every day to the best
of your ability and then you actually achieve that goal," said coach Walsh. "You realize as its going on that you control
the things that you can control, but there's so much in your sport that's
outside of your control that when it does come together, you got to cherish
it. You got to live it and love it."
Let's take a look back at a memorable 2012 soccer season.
It Began With a Mentality In 2011, Penn State fell to Wake Forest in the third round of the NCAA
tournament. The Nittany Lions had broken
through a second round barrier in the tournament that had plagued the team in
the previous two seasons. It was then
when the 2012 squad, led by a remarkable senior class, made the decision to
train in the offseason harder than they ever had before.
"The entire tone of the season was set in the summer when they [the
players] got fit and they played," said coach Walsh. "Their dedication made us [the coaches] so
pleased and put us in such a good place that I wanted to work harder for them
and the staff wanted to work harder for them.
They inspired us."
The players returned in August fit and focused and they set the overarching
goal of reaching the College Cup as motivation to overcome any adversity they
"The most important day of this season was August 31st when I
realized that our players came back fit," said coach Walsh. "When they came back fit and healthy, we
could take on anything."
Challenges From Out of Conference Penn State opened the season with seven out-of-conference opponents. Five of those teams would be selected to play
in the NCAA tournament including Stanford, BYU, Virginia, West Virginia, and
Central Michigan. Stanford and BYU would
earn one-seeds alongside Penn State and Virginia would earn a No. 2 seed. All three of those opponents finished the
year ranked in the top 10.
In addition, the Nittany Lions were without their top two goal scorers in
junior forwards Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram, who were competing with the U.S.
National Team in the U-20 Women's World Cup.
Injuries on defense plagued Penn State early on as the Nittany Lions lost
senior defenders Jackie Molinda and Lexi Marton for the season along with
temporary injuries to senior midfielder Bri Garcia and junior defender Bri
Though Penn State fell in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to top-ranked Stanford
at home and later dropped a 3-1 decision at BYU, the Nittany Lions persevered
with a 5-2-0 record and saw a record-breaking crowd of 5,117 fans against
Stanford as well as the return of Hayes following BYU.
In the seven-game span, a group of talented young players emerged and gained
valuable experience playing some of the top teams in the nation. Freshman forward Mallory Weber and Freshmen
Midfielder Raquel Rodriguez earned starting positions and were a vital part of
the top-rated offense in the country.
When Hayes and Schram returned from a U-20 Women's World Cup Championship
to an already dynamic offense, the stage was set for another successful Big Ten
A 15th Year of Big Ten
Dominance The Big Ten featured five teams in the NCAA tournament, including Penn
State, and the Nittany Lions cruised to an undefeated conference record
(10-0-1) and a 15th consecutive Big Ten title.
The defense became a formidable force for opposing offenses as sophomore
Whitney Church led the backline alongside sophomore Kori Chapic and
Hovington. Though the attention was on
the nation's leading offense, the defense notched four shutouts and allowed
just 11 goals in 12 games.
A number of freshmen made an impact off the bench including Corey Persson,
who appeared in all 27 matches and started in 14. Penn State's depth became crucial as the
season wore on and fatigue set in.
The Nittany Lions clinched the title in dramatic fashion against a staunch
Michigan defense in the second to last game of the regular season. Down 1-0, senior midfielder Christine Nairn
scored the game-tying goal on a penalty kick with five minutes left in
regulation. The game ended in a draw,
but the contest would be settled in a memorable NCAA tournament.
Road to the College Cup For Penn State, the 2012 season was separated into a series of smaller
goals that ultimately would lead to achieving the team's premier goal of
reaching the College Cup. As the Nittany
Lions checked objectives off the list, the players set a new standard for
themselves that would push them to a higher level and allow them to compete
with the best.
"I think it's one thing to set goals, it's another thing to read back
through them and to figure out where you are, where you went wrong and how to
work towards them the next time," said coach Walsh. "We were doing that on a weekly/game basis
Penn State suffered a setback in the Big Ten tournament, but had proven it
was an elite team and earned the number one seed in the NCAA tournament,
another goal checked off the list.
The Nittany Lions virtually swept the conference awards as coach Walsh
earned Big Ten Coach of the Year, Hayes earned Forward of the Year, Nairn
earned Midfielder of the Year, Church earned Defender of the Year, and
Rodriguez earned Rookie of the Year. The
talent was there and Penn State knew it was time for a deep run in the
After cruising through the first two rounds, the Nittany Lions ran into
their first challenge in a rematch against Michigan. It was another defensive struggle, but this
one couldn't end in a tie and was bound for penalty kicks.
Penn State had been 0-5 in games that went to penalty kicks prior to
Michigan. Senior goalkeeper Erin McNulty
had never played in a game that went to penalty kicks in her career. Four penalty kicks later and the Nittany
Lions were down 0-2 and facing elimination.
McNulty's response: not today. The
veteran keeper proceeded to make three consecutive saves, which were followed
by three consecutive goals and Penn State was on to the next round.
Duke presented a completely new challenge, the likes of which the Nittany
Lions hadn't faced since Stanford and BYU.
The Blue Devils pressured Penn State the entire game, finishing with a
19-7 shot advantage. However, a lone
goal off of a penalty kick by the senior, Nairn, in the 13th minute
proved to be the decider as the defense united and held. Penn State was headed to the College Cup in
San Diego. "It was very obvious to me that they wanted to be there, which makes you
want to be there," said coach Walsh.
"You're driven by each other's energy and the energy was incredible at
The schedule wouldn't get easier as the Nittany Lions faced fellow one-seed
Florida State, who had defeated Duke earlier in the season and emerged as
champions of the stacked ACC conference.
Penn State led 1-0 and had virtually dominated play heading into the
final minute, when Florida State scored to send the game into overtime.
With the momentum heavily in the Seminoles' favor, the Nittany Lions
rallied as they had all season and scored just over one minute into
overtime. The golden goal was scored
Nairn, who is currently a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy Award, the
highest honor in women's college soccer.
Another objective off the list and Penn State was off to the program's
first ever College Cup Final.
Though the Nittany Lions fell to North Carolina in the championship, they
were just the second Big Ten school to reach the final (Wisconsin, 1991). This team's success will never be forgotten,
as the players that follow will continue to play for those who came before them.
Looking Ahead to a Bright Future Penn State graduates a phenomenal senior class; a group that experienced
and battled through extraordinary adversity. The seniors established a standard on day one
and set the tone for incoming freshmen, who, in turn, have made their impact.
"This is all our freshmen know now," said coach Walsh on the influence of
the seniors. "The only thing they know
is what the seniors showed them this year.
They think that this is their standard and now they're looking at
setting a new standard and if this is their baseline, then I am thrilled to
think about what it's going to look like three years from now."
Though the Nittany Lions will lose the likes of Nairn, senior captain
Maddie Evans, McNulty, Marton, Molinda, Garcia, Amanda Dotten and Kristin
Hartmann, who are all leaders both on and off the field, the seniors passed
their knowledge on to a capable and gifted junior class. These players, like Hayes, Schram, Hovington
and Tani Costa are prepared to pick up where the departing leaders left off.
Coach Walsh is thrilled about what the future may bring. She believes success in any sport requires
hard work and if her players are willing to put in the time and effort to
succeed, then they can accomplish anything.
"I am excited to see how much harder we can work because I do think that we
have another level," said coach Walsh.
"We can get even better if we take that mentality and I think right now
these players are looking for 'what next? How do we get better?"
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The
Nittany Lion women's soccer team made history on Sunday afternoon at Torero
Stadium by competing in its first-ever College Cup Final, but came up short on
the scoreboard, 4-1, against North Carolina.
Penn State and the second-seeded Tar Heels entered halftime knotted at 1-1
following a goal from Taylor Schram on a superb pass from Christine Nairn, but
the Tar Heel attack was too much in the second half.
North Carolina netted a goal just 48 seconds into the second period before
adding two more for a 4-1 victory over the Nittany Lions, marking the Heels'
21st national championship in women's soccer.
The Nittany Lions wrap up a tremendous 2012 season with a 21-4-2 mark. Along the way, Big Ten Coach of the Year
Erica Walsh helped lead Penn State to its 15th-consecutive Big Ten title,
fourth College Cup and first ever appearance in the national championship tilt.
"It's hard to feel great after a 4-1 loss especially
when you haven't felt that all season long, but what I said to the team after
the match is how proud I am of the work that they've put in this season and the
leadership presented by our senior class," Walsh said. "I told them how much I've learned from them
this year and how much their legacy means to this program and this university
and that will carry us on to next year and obviously they set a whole new
standard for Penn State women's soccer, one that Taylor Schram and her class
will carry on into next season and try to get back to this spot."
The Nittany Lions will
use Sunday's setback as a learning experience.
While everyone on the roster wanted to walk off the field with a
championship trophy on Sunday, the Lions will take the experience and grow from
our program back on the map," Schram said. Like coach said, we were in
the College Cup in 2005 and now we're back this year. Christine, along
with our other seniors showed us the way. They led us through this whole
thing and now hopefully next year, my class and I can step up and do the same
thing they did and more."
behind 1-0 in the opening 1:11, Penn State did a nice job battling its way to a
1-1 tie at halftime. In addition to
Schram's goal, the Lions had two other very good opportunities in the first
half, one from Nairn in the sixth minute and one from Maya Hayes in the ninth
But the goal from the Tar Heels just 48 seconds into the second half was the
difference maker. North Carolina seized
the momentum on that play, maintained an aggressive attack with fresh legs and
played a relentless 45 minutes to finish the game.
"It was definitely challenging," Schram
said. "Every 15 minutes they would sub a
new line. We had a couple of injuries earlier in the year, so it took
away from our depth, so it was tough when you're playing against fresh legs
second game of the weekend. We tried to hang in there."
As Coach Walsh said
after the contest, giving a good team like North Carolina eight corner kick opportunities
is difficult to overcome.
"Just the volume of the set pieces and the
opportunity of the eight corners," Walsh said.
"They're able to expose a space behind our outside backs and we went to
a 4-back to try to stop it and that worked for a while but there is just so
many weapons that the Carolina team and they were excellent as usual but where
there's space they're going to track things down and you're going to give up
corners that's part of the three back and that's a risk that we have to be willing
to take. Today it didn't pay off, but I thought the second goal was the game
changing moment and right after half time we came out we were ready to go and
then they put one in the back of our net and it buried us for a short period
and then we started the fight again."
The Nittany Lions will head into the offseason with a great deal of motivation
after coming up short in the College Cup Final, but the 2012 team took the
program to new heights and laid the groundwork for what is going to be a bright
future ahead for Penn State Women's Soccer.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Welcome
to the Photo Blog for the College Cup Final.
Top-seeded Penn State and second-seeded North Carolina will battle for
the 2012 NCAA title at Torero Stadium in San Diego. Stay tuned for updated images throughout the
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The
top-seeded Nittany Lion women's soccer team will play in the College Cup Final
for the first time in program history on Sunday at 4 p.m. (ESPNU) against
second-seeded North Carolina.
Penn State moved into the national title match with a dramatic 2-1 overtime
victory over top-seeded Florida State on Friday in Torero Stadium. After a Maya Hayes goal made it 1-0 in the
57th minute, Penn State yielded a score to the Seminoles in the final minute,
but senior Christine Nairn ended the contest at the 91:12 mark to send the
Lions into the championship bout.
The Nittany Lions join Wisconsin (1991) as the only two Big Ten universities
that have played in the women's soccer national championship match.
The second-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels advanced to the College Cup Final
with a golden goal from leading scorer Kealia Ohai in double overtime of a 1-0
victory over top-seeded Stanford on Friday night.
The Nittany Lions and Tar Heels have played five times before, including once
in the College Cup Semifinals (1999).
North Carolina owns a 4-1 edge in the all-time series. Penn State's win in the series came during
the regular season in 1999.
While the Nittany Lion program is new to the national title match, North
Carolina has an illustrious history of success in the College Cup Final. North Carolina has won the College Cup 20
times since the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament began in 1982. The Tar Heels will be playing in the College
Cup Final for the 23rd time on Sunday afternoon out of a possible 31 women's
soccer championship games.
Penn State's 2012 journey has been a tremendous ride for head coach Erica Walsh
and the Nittany Lions. The Lions are
thrilled to have the opportunity to compete for a national title for the first
time in school history.
VIDEO: College Cup Final Preview Interviews
VIDEO: National Championship Preview Press Conference
By the Numbers:
No. 1 Penn State
No. 2 North Carolina
Goals Scored/Goals Allowed
Goals Scored by Half - 1st/2nd
Goals Allowed by Half - 1st/2nd
Christine Nairn - 1.72
Points Per Game Leader
Ohai and Green - 1.31
Christine Nairn - 0.65
Goals Per Game Leader
Kealia Ohai - 0.50
Raquel Rodriguez - 0.42
Assists Per Game Leader
Ranee Premji - 0.409
Erin McNulty - 0.829
Save Percentage Leader
Adelaide Gay - 0.773
Christine Nairn - 11
Renee Premji - 9
Christine Nairn - 17
Kealia Ohai - 8
Christine Nairn - 45
Kealia Ohai - 21
Erin McNulty - 87
Adelaide Gay - 34
College Cup Schedule: Friday, Nov. 30 -
Torero Stadium - San Diego, Calif.
- Semifinal I - No. 1 Penn State 2, No. 1 Florida State 1 (OT)
- Semifinal II - No. 2 North Carolina 1, No. 1 Stanford 0 (2OT)
Sunday, Dec. 2 -
Torero Stadium - San Diego, Calif.
- 1 p.m. (PT) - No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 2 North Carolina on ESPNU
Penn State in the College Cup: 1999
- NCAA Semifinals - Dec. 3, 1999 - L, 2-0 to No. 2 North Carolina
- NCAA Semifinals - Nov. 30, 2012 - W, 2-1 (OT) vs. No. 1 Florida State
Quoteboard: Head Coach Erica Walsh "Two days ago my goal was to be sitting here in
front of you and to see some familiar faces. The coverage has been fantastic
it's great to see how far women's soccer has come. We think back to 1994 when
Penn State started their program. I went to college in 1993 and didn't even
have Penn State as an option, so it's exciting to see how our sport has grown
over the years and the opportunities that are available to these student
athletes to come and play in front of a crowd last night that was excited, they
were educated they were into it. Despite the pouring rain the field was
fantastic and what a perfect environment for these guys to showcase their
skills and all their hard work so I just want to thank the University of San
Diego, the NCAA, and everyone else that was involved in the organizing
committee for putting on such a wonderful event."
On the possibility of a let down in tomorrow's
championship game... "You
just have to spend a little bit of time with these players to answer that
question. I laugh, I smile because I don't think they're capable of it, in fact
I know they're not capable of it. There were moments in this season when I had
that question in my mind, but that question has been answered time and time
again- whether it's a Friday Saturday schedule or whether it's an overtime win,
whether it's just the moment in the game where they had the ability to crack
and they didn't so maybe that question was asked in September or early October,
but now in December I can tell you with great certainty that these guys can
handle anything you throw out at them." On North Carolina... "Saw a lot of talent, a lot of experience, a lot
of pace, and I saw a lot of the things that we've seen all season long. I was
talking last night about our experiences in the Big 10, mainly Nebraska which is
a team that put on a tremendous amount of pressure for 90 minutes and at
moments we started to crack in that game, but again that's a month and a half
ago now and we have learned a lot about ourselves since that moment so I think
through our experiences this season, through the teams we've been able to
schedule, we've been awarded the opportunity to travel and play the best teams
in the country we're prepared for someone like UNC or anybody we would face at
this point in the season."
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony