Coaching StaffErica Walsh: Head coach Erica Walsh enters her seventh season at the helm of the Penn State women's soccer program in 2013. Walsh's 2012 Nitanny Lions were the most successful team in program history after advancing to their first-ever national title game. The Nittany Lions won 21 of 27 games and were unbeaten in Big Ten action with a 10-0-1 record. The Lions registered their 15th consecutive Big Ten title and 18th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The 15-title mark stands as the most consecutive Big Ten Championships by a women's program, along with the present Northwestern tennis team.
Senior Christine Nairn became just the seventh Nittany Lion to finish as a finalist for the prestigous Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy in 2012 under Walsh's tutelage while junior Maya Hayes was named a semifinalist for the award.
Walsh's success was recognized at the conference and national level as she earned Big Ten Coach of the Year and NSCAA Coach of the Year honors.
Her 2011 team was a dominant force, winning 21 of 26 matches, while out-scoring opponents 70-24. The Nittany Lions were 10-1-0 in Big Ten action and posted the seventh undefeated season at Jeffrey Field (9-0). Walsh helped guide the Lions to their 14th-straight Big Ten title and a spot to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2007.
With Walsh's guidance, sophomore Maya Hayes became the nation's most prolific scorer in soccer in 2011. Hayes was a finalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy. Hayes led the nation with 31 goals and 70 points. The sophomore phenom broke single-season record at Penn State for goals and points.
During the 2011 summer, Walsh had an extraordinary experience of being one of the top assistants to Pia Sundhage and the 2011 United State women's national team at the FIFA World Cup in Germany. The U.S. made a sparkling run through knockout play to the final, falling to eventual champions Japan.
During the 2010 season, Walsh's young club made a remarkable turnaround mid-season, overcoming a two-game deficit in the league standings over the final weeks to capture a share of a record-breaking 13th straight Big Ten title.
After a tough 2-4 start to the 2009 season, Walsh led the Nittany Lions to a remarkable turnaround, going 10-1-2 in the last 13 games of the regular season, earning her the 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year Award for her efforts. In March of 2010, Walsh's alma mater, William & Mary, honored her by inducting her into the W&M Athletics Hall of Fame.
With the impressive end to the season, Walsh and her charges captured the program's 12th-straight Big Ten Championship, tying a record for most consecutive women's Big Ten titles won held by the Michigan swimming & diving program. By winning the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions continued their string of NCAA Tournament berths, making their 15th-straight appearance in the 64-team field in 2009. For the second time in three years, Penn State hosted the first and second rounds of tournament play.
Walsh also orchestrated one of the finest awards seasons in Penn State history when Katie Schoepfer, Alyssa Naeher and Christine Nairn swept the year-end Big Ten Player of the Year awards. Schoepfer was named the Offensive Player of the Year, Naeher the Defensive Player of the Year and Nairn the Freshman of the Year. Danielle Toney was named to the All-Big Ten First Team, while Lexi Marton garnered Second Team mention. Walsh has now coached two players of the year to three awards as Naeher was also the 2007 recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year honors in Walsh's first year in Happy Valley.
Walsh continued her success from the 2007 campaign into a 16-8-0 record that saw Penn State capture its 11th-straight Big Ten Championship and the 2008 Big Ten Tournament crown.
Her transition to Penn State was quite smooth as the 2007 team finished 18-4-2, including a 9-1-0 mark in conference play, and was ranked 12th in the final NSCAA poll of the season.
When she came to Penn State, Walsh brought with her a wealth of experience at both the international and collegiate levels. She already has coached at six different universities, including three stints as head coach as well as serving as an assistant for the U.S. U-19 team in 2004. Walsh served as head coach of the U-17 team from December 2004 until her hire at Penn State in February of 2007.
As of January 2009, Walsh was appointed as a member of the Panel of Instructors and Lecturers for FIFA Courses. In addition, she was appointed as the Chairman of the Women's Technical Committee for the period of January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011.
In January of 2008, Walsh was named as the assistant coach by Pia Sundhage for the U.S. National Team. With Walsh's help and guidance the U.S. team completed its historic run with a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Even sweeter was that Walsh's main responsibility was the U.S. Team's defense, which held fellow world power Brazil scoreless in the gold medal game.
The head coach at Harvard University as well as the U.S. Under-17 team prior to her hiring at Penn State, Walsh has consistently been active among the coaching ranks both at the Division I level and the U.S. Youth National Team program for nearly a decade. Prior to her time with the Crimson, she was part of a Florida State staff that led the Seminoles to one of its most successful year to date. FSU joined Penn State in the 2005 Women's Soccer College Cup, with both programs reaching the national semifinals.
Walsh's coaching path began in 1997 as a graduate assistant with Bucknell University. In 1998, she accepted a position at Dartmouth, where she was an assistant coach for two seasons. After helping the team to a final NSCAA ranking of No. 8 at the conclusion of the team's 1998 NCAA quarterfinal run as well as an Ivy League championship in 1999, Walsh assumed head coaching duties before the 2000 season.
As head coach, Walsh led the Big Green to back-to-back Ivy League co-championships in 2000 and 2001. Her squad was ranked in the NSCAA's top 25 each year, rising as high as No. 13 in 2001. In her three seasons as head coach, Dartmouth was invited to the NCAA Tournament each season and reached the round of 16 twice. All three of her teams earned the NSCAA's Academic Team Award.
Walsh left Dartmouth to earn her Master's in business administration at Lehigh University where she served as a graduate assistant from 2003-04.
Beginning in the spring of 2004, Walsh joined the United States Under-19 team as an assistant coach where she helped with preparations for the Under-19 World Cup. The U.S. finished with the bronze medal in Thailand after defeating Brazil in the third place match. After the World Cup, Walsh was appointed the U.S. National Team's U-17 head coach, a position which she held for three years.
As a player, Walsh was an NSCAA All-Region selection at William & Mary. A two-time first team All-CAA pick, she propelled her team to four NCAA Tournament appearances as well as two CAA regular season and two CAA league championships.
A high school All-American at Lower Moreland, she was also a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team.
Walsh earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in biology from William & Mary in 1997 and resides in State College, Pa.
For the seventh consecutive year, Cook traveled to Nicaragua with an organization called Soccer Without Borders, bringing along former Nittany Lion and current Nebraska Assistant Coach Bri Garcia to help out. The organization focuses on using soccer as a tool for youth development around the world. The exchange team coached nearly 800 girls, trained more than 45 coaches and played two friendly matches against the Nicaraguan Women's National Team.
Prior to PSU, Cook was an assistant coach at Nebraska for two seasons. Cook was responsible for numerous tasks while at Nebraska including individual and team training, recruiting, video analysis and scheduling. She also worked closely as the staff's liaison to the Huskers' athletic support staff.
During her tenure at Missouri State from 2004-05, she handled training, recruiting and team travel duties as well as supervising the strength and conditioning program. The head coach at Drury University from 1999-2000, her squad ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Division-II poll among new programs in 1999.
A three-time All-American, Cook played for William & Mary from 1993-97, medically redshirting during the 1996 campaign. In the mix for the Hermann Trophy as well as the M.A.C. Player of the Year Award in both 1995 and 1997, she was the 1997 CAA Conference Player of the Year and CAA Conference Tournament MVP. The Tribe made appearances in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals two of Cook's four seasons, grabbing a bid for the Tournament each year and concluding the seasons ranked in the top five.
Eighteen Lions earned All-AMCC honors and 24 were named to the Academic All-AMCC team during the three-year era, which outscored opponents 172-40. Additionally, Wassell's charges collected three NSCAA Great Lakes All-Region selections, including the only freshman on the first or second team in 2008. The team reached the 2008 NCAA Division III Tournament, falling 1-0 to Otterbein. During that season, PSU Altoona went without a loss in the regular season.
Prior to taking over the reigns at Altoona, he served as the goalkeeping coach in 2006 for both the men's and women's teams. For the men's squad at Altoona, the team posted the best goals against average in the conference and second best mark in shutouts. The team finished top 25 nationally in GAA with a 0.63 average.