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Sheva Key in Opening Victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly three months ago junior midfielder Marissa Sheva was competing on the Nittany Lion Outdoor Track, helping to guide the 2017 Big Ten Champion indoor Penn State women's team to a third-place finish at the outdoor track and field championships. 

A rare two-sport athlete in the collegiate setting, even Penn State head coach Erica Dambach noted that without Sheva's presence in the spring season, the staff wasn't quite sure what to expect. 

When the big lights came on and the fervent crowd at Jeffrey Field showed up, so did Sheva.

"Marissa has proven to be someone who can handle those big moments, obviously she is a two-sport athlete so she has been in those big moments so many times and just thinking about putting on frame and giving it the chance and she did a great job with it," Dambach said.

Less than 10 minutes into the official start of the 2017-18 Penn State Athletics slate, junior midfielder Charlotte Williams found Sheva wide open on a breakaway, where she finished from fewer than 10 yards out to give the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 edge against eighth-ranked BYU.

"I just really wanted to get it off my foot as soon as possible because I knew I had a defender coming on me and I knew that an early lead would really give us some energy that we needed," Sheva said.

Penn State's stifling defense limited BYU to just three shots in the opening half, as the crowd of 3,570 at Jeffrey field heightened the intensity giving the Nittany Lions a needed boost in the second half.

The Cougars though, would not remain silenced as Cameron Tucker slipped the equalizer in the second half past an outstretched redshirt junior goalkeeper Rose Chandler 

"I wasn't even nervous," Chandler said. "They came back with that goal and I was like, we're going to go get another one, you could feel it in the energy, no heads went down. I grabbed the ball out of the back of the net and I said okay we have to go score and we scored once and we said, okay, we have to go score again, and I love that energy from our team because we trust each other and we're really excited."

It was junior Alina Ortega-Jurado, who came off the bench in the first half, netting the go-ahead for the Nittany Lions in the second half, sparking just enough momentum for Sheva to strike again in a short stretch of time.

Finishing in a key moment once again, Sheva placed her second goal of the night in net off of a pair of rebounds from freshman Frankie Tagliaferri and Williams to send Penn State ahead 3-1.

Tagliaferri was one of three Nittany Lion newcomers to see the field, all from a freshman class ranked as high as fourth nationally by She finished tied for first on the team with Williams with three shots.

"It was great to see the freshmen implementing a lot of the things that we've been working on and catching on so quickly" Sheva said. "They really play a huge part in the team, we have a lot of depth, so they're definitely going to help us this year." 

That wouldn't be all from BYU, as the Cougars continued to pepper Chandler. Making her first career start for the Nittany Lions, Chandler all but locked up the victory with a spectacular save in the final five minutes of play.

"Rose is a very good goalkeeper and I think everybody had to get the jitters out a little bit and then once you did, a huge save from her toward the end there and that's a game-changing save there," Dambach said.   

Penn State has a quick turnaround as it turns the focus toward Hofstra. The Nittany Lions close out opening weekend Sunday, Aug. 20 with an afternoon matchup set for 1 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.

Nittany Lions Set for 2017

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As is seemingly tradition, Penn State women's soccer will officially open the 2017-18 Intercollegiate Athletics slate Friday, August 18th with a 7 p.m. matchup under the lights against BYU.

With a pair of early preseason exhibitions complete, Penn State is poised to continue Chasing Greatness, with a challenging schedule awaiting and a roster stacked with both experience and depth heading into 2017.

Chasing Greatness
For head coach Erica Dambach, Chasing Greatness for 2017 means honing in on the details, showing up each day motivated to get better with an eye on all the little things. For senior caption Elizabeth Ball, details have been a daily focus, with the season opener now just days from arrival. 

"If you're not getting the little things done then how are you supposed to make it big picture," Ball said. "Every day we come out here and make sure our feet are behind the line before we start our warm up, we make sure everybody is talking, getting in tackles. Every little detail is so important to us and I think that's what really boosts us in the season."

Veteran Advantage
With nearly everyone returning in 2017, the Nittany Lions also have an added boost with the return of five members of the team who have returned to the squad after representing the United States at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. 

"The most exciting thing, especially in our sport, are the different combinations that we can see throughout the course of the game," Dambach said. "Depending on the opponent, depending on the conditions, there are so many possibilities with this group and it's exciting to see that kind of come to life."

For Ball, a mix of both new faces and returners only elevates the training, meaning that everyone will be challenged to work to secure their spot.

Newcomers Too
As Dambach also noted, entering such a veteran squad could present a bit of an intimidating atmosphere for a freshman, but the five newcomers are adjusting just fine. Tabbed by as the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation, Penn State's freshmen class might be small in numbers, but certainly not short on talent.

"We've been throwing a lot at them and we've been asking the upperclassmen to help coach them as well and trying to bring them along as quickly as we can and they've been really receptive and trying to take in as much as they can and apply it," Dambach said.

Add in the experience and leadership of deeply experienced upperclassmen and it's a perfect combination for a smooth transition. 

"We've been able to advance in some of the concepts pretty quickly and we've been able to climb on to some of the things that we're usually doing in week two and three," Dambach said. "We've been able to work through those quickly." 

Home Sweet Jeffrey
Penn State's home-opener is often a record-setting event for the Nittany Lions with last year's attendance numbers hardly reflecting the energy generated from a record 5,791 fans who packed the stands at Jeffrey Field. With the help of an always enthusiastic student section affectionately known as the Park Avenue Army, Friday's opener offers free posters as well as a pregame student tailgate with free food and a DJ. Check out the full promotional schedule here.

Champions Visit State Capitol

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the state capitol today for an afternoon of recognition, celebrating Nittany Lion conference champion student-athletes and head coaches following a record-setting 2016-17 season both in competition and in the classroom.

Joined by select head coaches and staff members as well as student-athletes, the group toured through the Pennsylvania House and Senate, stopping in for lunch with Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate before remarks from Corman, welcoming the group to the state's capitol following a few early proceedings.

Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania House, which holds all 203 members, including Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, Rep. Rich Irvin and Rep. Scott Conklin, who read a resolution to again welcome and congratulate the Nittany Lions on an all-around successful season, one that drew a standing ovation from the members on the floor. 

"I want to congratulate the teams for not only what they do on the field but what they do in the community, the outreach they give, the coaches who oversee them," Conklin said. 

Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour only echoed the all-around success in her remarks in the main rotunda later in the afternoon, noting that the individuals surrounding her representing a combined 2016-17 total of nine conference titles, among a few other crowns, are only one part of the story.

Penn State was recently slated fourth in the first spring update of the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a year that saw seven Nittany Lion squads earn Big Ten Championships or tournament titles in seven sports, the most of any league institution and the third-highest total in school history.

As head coach Cael Sanderson brought instantaneous cheers from the floor of the Pennsylvania house upon his introduction, the room was reminded of Nittany Lion wrestling team's stunning second consecutive NCAA Wrestling Championship, marking its sixth in the last seven years, with five individuals earning NCAA titles along the way.

As Barbour pointed out though, the impact of the Blue and White extends much further than excellence in competition.

Nearly a month ago, a school record 114 Penn State student-athletes graduated, bringing the 2016-17 total to 142, with more students on track to cross the stage in August. Penn State also revealed its 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate this year, which stands just one point below its all-time program mark. 

"Penn State student-athletes, not unlike their student colleagues and their servant hearts, have dedicated themselves to service," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes served over 6,200 hours of community engagement this last year. This comprehensive excellence is embraced by our Penn State and Pennsylvania community. It's truly Penn State's point of difference. It has historically motivated a state and a community, connected passionately to each and every one of our programs and each and every one of our student-athletes who wear the Blue and White."

Representative of just a small piece of a variety of community engagement close to Penn State student-athletes is THON, a beloved annual event that encompasses the entire university and Happy Valley community.

Led by the efforts of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board, SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON in 2017, which ranked third among the 400-plus general organizations represented. Surging past a fundraising goal of $50,000, the 2017 figure is SAAB's second-largest total in the history of the organization, adding to a career total of $680,000, all for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, with four Penn State student-athletes joining the 703 dancers on the floor this year.

Among those dancers this year was women's soccer's Megan Schafer, a Big Ten Champion from Langhorne, who joined the group today for her second trip to state capitol, but first as a Nittany Lion. 

"A couple of years ago I got recognized for winning a state championship, so I think it's pretty cool coming back at the collegiate level to get recognized for our hard work all season," Schafer said. "I think it's really cool everything that people put together just to recognize us today."

Prior to Penn State, Schafer scored the overtime game-winner to lead Neshaminy high school (also the alma mater of Penn State head football coach James Franklin) to a Pennsylvania state title.


The entire group of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes were treated to a personal meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, who stopped by the steps of the main rotunda to greet the champions before heading back to Happy Valley.

VIDEO: Lee & Williford Talk Black History Month

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the final release of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with women's soccer's Salina Williford to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community. 

Throughout the month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.

VIDEO: Women's Soccer's THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out women's soccer's full pep rally dance! 

THON Features: Schafer Set to Dance for a Cure

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By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Megan Schafer knows all too well the horrible effects cancer brings to families across the globe.


When she was in high school Schafer was informed that her younger cousin, Mary, was diagnosed with the petrifying disease. Since that day, Schafer vowed to do all she could to help Mary and all other individuals and families who have had to hear that chilling news about a loved one.


Ever since stepping on the Penn State campus three years ago, Schafer has made it her personal goal to dance for the cure, and for Mary, at THON by the time she graduated.


In just a few days that goal will come to fruition.


Schafer will be one of four student-athletes representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) in this year's dance marathon beginning February 17. She will be on her feet dancing for 46 hours straight, joining in the fight to one day defeat pediatric cancer.


"To be able to come to Penn State and do this and know how a school can come together like this, it's just such a cool thing to experience," Schafer said.


Her cousin Mary battled her way past the disease and is now in remission. There are many families, however, that aren't as lucky.


According to, almost 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Twelve percent of all children diagnosed do not survive.


That's what will keep Schafer on her feet all weekend.


Schafer's teammates, Angela Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas, participated as dancers last year and they've been a few of Schafer's biggest supporters. Schafer said being on the floor with them and experiencing THON from that perspective was the defining moment when she knew she wanted to dance herself.


She was on the floor more than half of the time last year, so taking on the full 46 hours seems more than doable in her mind.


Schafer believes she has an advantage over many of the dancers because of the physical shape she's in. Most dancers spend the week leading up to THON preparing their bodies for the toughest physical test they'll face.


As for Schafer, she doesn't think any pre-THON training is necessary. She said Penn State head coach Erica Dambach has aptly prepared her for this challenge with her conditioning programs. For Schafer, running sprints after practice will actually prove to be beneficial when it matters most.


Schafer said she knows fatigue is inevitable, but quitting isn't an option. She has to keep those children, like Mary, who have battled and defeated cancer without complaining about being tired throughout the entire process.


If they can fight the pain, she will be able to as well. She hopes her participation as a dancer will be the start of making sure every child diagnosed with cancer isn't beaten. She has seen up close a family member beat an unbelievable challenge, and Schafer believes it's possible for everyone with help from events like THON.


"If I'm ever feeling down or tired, I just have to think of why I'm doing this," Schafer said. "It doesn't matter how many hours, I'm going to be able to do it because it's for such a good cause.

SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 


Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.


By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State cruised into the 2016 NCAA tournament's second round by defeating Bucknell handedly, 6-0, in the round of 64.


It was the second-largest margin of victory of any first round match. South Carolina's 7-0 romp of Alabama State was the only match that was more lopsided.


Things get a tad hairy moving forward for the Nittany Lions, however.


Penn State travels to the nation's capital for a date Friday with No. 15 Virginia in what should be one of the most competitive matches of the second round.


Immediately after the match, the hosts, No. 5 Georgetown, will face off against one of Penn State's most familiar foes, No. 22 Rutgers.

The pod of four is arguably one of the toughest to survive in the entire tournament, with all four teams being realistic contenders to reach the College Cup.


Head coach Erica Dambach finds herself in the rare position of underdog in the early stages in the NCAA tournament. The Lions are the only unranked team in the Georgetown pod.


"This is a fun role for our group," Dambach said. "We've talked about it and they're excited to be in that role without the target on their back and go after a team that's got more pressure on them, so I think it allows us to play with more freedom."


"It's definitely less pressure on us, which is awesome," forward Megan Schafer said. "I think that a lot of us aren't used to being in this role, so it's definitely a new experience for us but it's a great role to have, and I'm excited to get on the road."


No. 15 Virginia (14-4-2)- The Cavaliers are coming off a 4-1 first-round victory against Monmouth.


Virginia's best results in the regular season were a win against No. 11 Notre Dame and draws against No. 6 North Carolina and No. 10 Florida State. The Cavaliers also tied No. 1 West Virginia in a preseason bout.


Virginia is led up top by ACC leading scorer Alexis Shaffer. Shaffer has netted 13 goals and tallied six assists in 2016, both tops on the team.


The senior also leads the team in minutes played (1471) this year.


"Just being aware of her, making sure that we're defending players with numbers, that we're not getting isolated," Dambach said.


Virginia is ninth in the country in scoring average at 2.45 goals per game, thanks in large part to Shaffer. Veronica Latsko and Taylor Ziemer are prime contributors as well, with eight and seven goals on the year, respectively.


"We know that they have a really good attack," defender Alina Ortega-Jurado said. "We're trying to stop them early on in the field so they can't really hurt us back in our half of the field."


No. 5 Georgetown (17-2-3)- The Hoyas are one of the hottest teams in the tournament. They've lost only one game in their last 20 matches, and they kept it rolling with a 2-0 win against St. Francis (Pa.) in round one.


Although Virginia is an elite offensive team, the Hoyas are even better.


Georgetown possesses the fourth-highest scoring offense in the country at 2.55 goals per game, led by three players with double-digit goals.


Grace Damaska (14 goals), Rachel Corboz (10 goals), and Crystal Thomas (10 goals) highlight one of the most prolific scoring attacks in the country. Corboz also leads the country with 14 assists.


As good as Georgetown's attack is, its defense is almost as impressive. The Hoyas rank 17th in the nation in goals allowed average (0.64).


The Hoyas played both Rutgers and Virginia earlier this season. They defeated Rutgers 2-1 and Virginia 3-2. Their most impressive win was a 1-0 overtime win against No. 1 West Virginia.


No. 22 Rutgers (12-4-6)- Rutgers and Penn State, as conference rivals, have battled to close finishes over and over for the past year.


The Lions got the best of the Scarlet Knights last season with a 2-0 victory in the NCAA tournament, but Rutgers has had their number this season.


The two foes fought to a 2-2 draw in the regular season, but Rutgers knocked Penn State out of the Big Ten tournament with a 2-0 victory. The Scarlet Knights eventually lost to Minnesota in the championship.


Rutgers defeated Harvard, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.


Madison Tiernan leads the Scarlet Knights in goals with 10, and Nicole Whitley has dished out 10 assists to pace the team.


The staple to Rutgers' game is physicality. With 205 fouls on the year, the Scarlet Knights are one of a handful of teams to eclipse the 200-foul mark.


Each possible opponent presents vastly different challenges to the Nittany Lions, but the team proved last year it isn't scared of anyone.


This weekend will feature some close, gritty matchups. Whoever escapes the pod will have a good chance to reach the College Cup.

Nittany Lion Bios and U-20 WWC Schedule | U.S. Soccer Feature on E. Jean | FIFA Feature on E. Ogle | Nittany Lion U-20 History

Match Day 10

The U.S. closed out the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with a 1-0 loss against Japan in the third-place match Saturday, Dec. 3.

For the sixth-straight match, four Nittany Lions started for the Red, White and Blue as Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the backline. All four Nittany Lions played the full 90 minutes.

Match Day 9

The U.S. fell to Korea DPR, 2-1, in extra time in the semifinal round Tuesday, Nov. 29. With the loss, the U.S. will play in the third-place match against Japan on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 1 a.m. EST live on Fox Sports 1.

For the fifth-straight match, four Nittany Lions started for the Red, White and Blue as Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the backline. Jean played 71 minutes of the match, while Elliston, Ogle and Riehl each played the full 120 minutes.

Match Day 8

The United States scored twice in the final 10 minutes, which included the game-winner during injury time, en route to a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the quarterfinal round Friday, Nov. 25. With the victory, the U.S. advances to take on Korea DPR in the semifinal round on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 1 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The winner of Korea DPR and the U.S. will face the winner of Japan and France in the championship match on Dec. 3. 

For the fourth-straight match, four Nittany Lions started for the Red, White and Blue as Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the backline. All four Nittany Lions played the full 90 minutes.

Germany, the defending FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup champions, was topped by France, 1-0, in the quarterfinal round.

Nittany Lion Laura Freigang (Oppenheim, Germany) started her fourth match in the German midfield and she played the full 90 minutes.

Match Day 6

Germany and the U.S. both clinched berths in the quarterfinals of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Monday, Nov. 21.

Behind two goals within the first 25 minutes of play, Germany tallied a 2-0 victory over Korea Republic. For Germany, Laura Freigang (Oppenheim, Germany) recorded her third start in the midfield and she played the full 90 minutes.

With the win Monday, Germany clinched the top spot in Group D with a 3-0-0 record. In Group D play, Germany posted a goal differential of +7 after scoring eight goals and only allowing one goal.

The U.S. closed out Group C action with a 1-1 draw against Ghana.

Four Nittany Lions were featured in the United States Starting XI for the third-straight match as Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the backline. All four Nittany Lions played the full 90 minutes.

The Red, White and Blue finished Group C play tied atop the standings with France with five points (1-0-2) apiece. The two teams were tied in points and goals sending the tie-breaker to Fair Play. The U.S. received zero yellow cards, while France received one yellow card, which gave the tie-breaker to the U.S.

Both Germany and the U.S. will play Friday, Nov. 25, in the quarterfinal round. The U.S. plays Group D runner-up, Mexico, at 1 a.m. EST and Germany takes on Group C runner-up, France, at 4:30 a.m. EST. Both matches will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1.

Match Day 4

Germany and the U.S. both tallied victories in their second match of group play at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Thursday, Nov. 17. Germany moved to 2-0-0 in Group D action with a 3-0 shutout victory over Mexico, while the United States picked up a 3-1 win over New Zealand to move to 1-0-1 in Group C.

Laura Freigang (Oppenheim, Germany) started her second match in the German midfield and played 87 minutes.

Similar to the opening match of the tournament, four Nittany Lions were featured in the United States Starting XI. Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the U.S. midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the U.S. backline. All four Nittany Lions played the full 90 minutes.

Following the second match of group play, both Germany and the U.S. lead their respective groups. Germany is 2-0-0 in Group D and the U.S. is 1-0-1 in Group C.

Group play concludes for Germany and the U.S. on Nov. 21. Germany takes on Korea Republic (1-1-0) at 4 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 2 and the U.S. plays Ghana (0-1-1) at 1 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.

The winner of Group C takes on the runner-up of Group D on Nov. 25 at 1 a.m. EST and the winner of Group D takes on the runner-up of Group C on Nov. 25 at 4:30 a.m. EST in the quarterfinal round.

Match Day 2 

The German and United States U-20 Women's National Teams opened play Monday, Nov. 14, at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Five Nittany Lions started for their respective countries Monday.  

Defending champion Germany opened Group D play with a 3-1 win over Venezuela, while the United States began Group C action with a 0-0 tie against France.

Laura Freigang (Oppenheim, Germany) started, and played the full 90 minutes, in the German midfield in the tournament opener.   

For the United States, four Nittany Lions recorded starts, including three Nittany Lions on the backline.

Emily Ogle (Strongsville, Ohio) started in the U.S. midfield, while Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.), Ellie Jean (Coventry, Conn.) and Kaleigh Riehl (Fairfax Station, Va.) recorded starts on the U.S. backline. All four Nittany Lions played the 90 minutes.

Germany (1-0-0) plays Mexico (1-0-0) on Nov. 17 at 1 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The United States (0-0-1) takes on New Zealand (1-0-0) on Nov. 17 at 4 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.


By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior captain Nickolette Driesse has been a key contributor to the Penn State Nittany Lions throughout the first 19 games of the season, making multiple big plays in key moments.  


There is no surprise that game 20 was no different on the biggest stage in college soccer, the NCAA tournament. Under the bright lights at Jeffrey Field in a do-or-die game, Driesse rose to the occasion once again and scored her first goal of the year to lead the Nittany Lions to a 6-0 first round victory against Bucknell Friday night.


In the 15th minute Driesse received a pass from Frannie Crouse just outside the box and ripped a left-footed strike to the top left corner of the net. The shot couldn't have been placed any better.


"We've been working as a midfield just kind of rotating into that holding mid position, and as soon as I took that touch I saw [Salina Williford] going out, and I just thought that I would take a chance," Driesse said.


This isn't anything new to Driesse. The bigger the moment, the brighter she shines.


Just look at her NCAA tournament resume. Three years, three championship appearances, two championship trophies. It doesn't get much better than that.


She spent her freshman and sophomore years at Florida State, where the team reached the championship in 2013 but lost to UCLA. In 2014 the Seminoles made it back to the final and came away victorious.


Driesse transferred to Penn State before her junior season, and led the Lions to their first ever NCAA championship. The girl is simply a winner.


"This time of the year and knowing that it's my last game on Jeffrey, the last time I'm going to be playing in front of some of these fans," Driesse said. "I kind of just knew that I needed to do something to make a mark here."


Driesse is out for her third consecutive NCAA title and her second in Blue and White. Anything less would be a failure by her standards.


Following Driesse's opening goal, Charlotte Williams added another in the 41st minute. It marked the first time since Sept. 11 Penn State scored two first half goals.


In the second half, Haleigh Echard and Marissa Sheva scored goals to stretch the lead to four. It was Echard's first goal of the year and Sheva's second.


Williams added another goal in the 70th minute for her sixth goal of the season and Schafer tacked on another in the 81st minute, her sixth of the season.


Frannie Crouse notched two assists in the game to lead the team. She had only one assist all season coming into the match.


Penn State's six goals in the match marked its season-high in 2016. The Lions hadn't scored more than three goals in any game prior to Friday night. Penn State outshot Bucknell 19-5 and held the Bison to zero shots in the second half.


"I actually saw quite a few elements in our attack today that I really was impressed by, things that we have been trying to put in over these last few weeks that just haven't come off against some of these other opponents that seemed to really click tonight," said head coach Erica Dambach. "Hopefully this game will give these guys a ton of confidence in their ability going forward."


Penn State is now 16-3 in first round NCAA tournament games and has won eight straight first round matches.


"This is the perfect way to end the season on Jeffrey Field in front of another great crowd," said Dambach. "With Nikki Driesse having the game winner in her senior year, and to get a shutout. I think we were firing on all cylinders tonight."


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