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Women’s soccer welcomes five student-athletes
Women's Soccer remains perfect in Big Ten
- Assistant coach for the 2008 gold medalist U.S. Women's National Team at the Beijing Olympics
- Assistant Coach for the 2011 United States Women's National Team at the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup in Germany
- Assisted the 2012 U.S. Women's Olympic squad through the qualifying stage
- Served as head coach for the U.S. U-17 Women's National Team from 2004-07
- Assisted the U.S. U-19 Women's National Team in 2004
- Assistant coach for the U-20 Women's National Team from December 2013-2014
- Has led Penn State to a 169-55-14 mark through 10 seasons
- Ten-straight NCAA Tournament appearances
- Nine Big Ten regular season titles (2007-12, 2014-16)
- Led the Nittany Lions to the program's first NCAA title in 2015
- Guided the Nittany Lions to a pair of College Cup and national title match appearances (2012 & 2015)
- Two Big Ten Tournament Titles (2008 & 2015)
- 2012 and 2015 NSCAA Coach of the Year
- 2012 Soccer America National Coach of the Year
- Three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (2009, 2012, 2014)
- One MAC Hermann Trophy winner
- Two MAC Hermann Trophy finalists and eight semifinalists
- Eight NSCAA First Team All-Americans who have contributed to 13 NSCAA All-America honors
- Ten NSCAA Scholar All-America honorees
- Nine Big Ten Players of the Year
Head coach Erica (Walsh) Dambach enters her 11th season at the helm of the Penn State women’s soccer program in 2017.
The 2016 campaign saw the Nittany Lions capture their 18th Big Ten regular season title in 19 seasons and they advanced to their 22nd-straight NCAA Tournament. The Blue and White opened the 2016 season with a 1-1 tie against No. 6 West Virginia in front of a program-record 5,791 fans at Jeffrey Field.
Along with a program-record crowd in the season opener, the Nittany Lions captured two milestone victories during the 2016 slate. On Aug. 21, the Nittany Lions topped Hofstra, 3-1, for their 400th victory in program history and on Sept. 9, the Nittany Lions defeated San Diego State, 3-0, for Coach Dambach’s 200th career win as an NCAA Division I women’s soccer head coach.
During the fall of 2015, the Penn State women’s soccer team recorded a 3.49 GPA in the classroom to go along with the program’s first NCAA title and a pair of Big Ten titles.
Dambach’s squad finished the 2015 season with a 22-3-2 record, its eighth 20-win season, by defeating No. 20 Duke 1-0 in the College Cup Final on Dec. 6, 2015, in Cary, N.C. The NCAA title was the first in program history and the first by a Big Ten women’s soccer program.
The Nittany Lions outscored the opposition 20-0 during their 2015 NCAA Tournament run. The Nittany Lions did not allow a goal over the final 733:32 of the season.
Raquel Rodriguez capped off her historic career in the Blue and White by scoring the lone goal in the NCAA title match in the 72nd minute. Rodriguez followed up her game-winner in the title match by claiming the second MAC Hermann Trophy in program history in January 2016 (Welsh – 2001).
To go along with the MAC Hermann Trophy, Rodriguez garnered NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year honors, the Honda Sport Award winner for women’s soccer and was named a NSCAA First Team All-American.
Following the 2015 season, Dambach received NSCAA Coach of the Year honors for the second time in her Nittany Lion career (2012).
In January 2016, all three Nittany Lion captains were selected in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) draft. Rodriguez was selected with the No. 2 pick by Sky Blue FC, Mallory Weber went to the Western New York Flash at No. 14 and Britt Eckerstrom was the first goalkeeper selected at No. 26 by the Western New York Flash.
In 2014, Dambach led the Blue and White to its 10th NCAA Tournament semifinal appearance and the seventh 20-win season in program history. Penn State, which had an 11-member freshman class, earned its third outright conference title in four years, maintaining a top-11 national ranking throughout the season and defeating five top-25 opponents.
Under Dambach’s direction, who picked up her third Big Ten Coach of the Year award, Penn State collected three of four Player of the Year awards. Whitney Church, the conference’s Defender of the Year, was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and an NSCAA All-America first team selection before she became the 30th overall pick in the NWSL draft by the Washington Spirit. Also earning individual Big Ten awards were Raquel Rodriguez, who bagged Midfielder of the Year honors and Emily Ogle, the Freshman of the Year.
The Nittany Lions appeared in their 19th-straight NCAA Tournament in 2013, due in part to the success of senior Maya Hayes. The sixth-overall selection in the NWSL draft, Hayes set Penn State’s single season record for points (79) and finished her career ranked third in goals scored (71) and points (163), sixth in game-winning goals (17) and seventh in shots (291). Hayes also became the seventh MAC Hermann Award Trophy semifinalist in program history.
Dambach’s 2012 Nittany Lions were, at the time 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 Northwestern tennis team (1999-2014).
Senior Christine Nairn became just the seventh Nittany Lion to finish as a finalist for the prestigious Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy in 2012 under Dambach’s tutelage while junior Maya Hayes was named a semifinalist for the award.
Dambach’s success was recognized at the conference and national level as she earned Big Ten Coach of the Year and NSCAA National 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). Dambach 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 Dambach’s guidance, sophomore Maya Hayes became the nation’s most prolific scorer in soccer in 2011 and was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Hayes led the nation with 31 goals and 70 points, breaking the Penn State single-season record for points.
During the 2011 summer, Dambach 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 champion Japan.
During the 2010 season, Dambach’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 its 13th straight Big Ten title.
After a tough 2-4 start to the 2009 season, Dambach 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.
With the impressive end to the season, Dambach and her charges captured the program’s 12th-straight Big Ten Championship. 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.
Dambach 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 a second-team mention. Dambach 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 Dambach’s first year in Happy Valley.
Dambach 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, Dambach 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. Dambach served as head coach of the U-17 team from December 2004 until her arrival at Penn State in February 2007.
As of January 2009, Dambach 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, Dambach was named as the assistant coach by Pia Sundhage for the U.S. National Team. With Dambach’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 Dambach’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, Dambach has consistently been active among the coaching ranks both at the NCAA 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 years to date. FSU joined Penn State in the 2005 Women’s Soccer College Cup, with both programs reaching the national semifinals.
Dambach’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, Dambach assumed head coaching duties before the 2000 season.
As head coach, Dambach 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.
Dambach 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, Dambach 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, Dambach was appointed the U.S. National Team’s U-17 head coach, a position which she held for three years.
As a player, Dambach 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. In March of 2010, Dambach’s alma mater, William & Mary, honored her by inducting her into the W&M Athletics Hall of Fame.
A high school All-American at Lower Moreland, she was also a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team.
Dambach earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in biology from William & Mary in 1997. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., native holds an NSCAA Advanced National Degree and a USSF “A” Coaching License.
The former Erica Walsh married Jason Dambach in January 2016 and they currently reside in State College, Pa. Erica and Jason welcomed a daughter, Addie, to the family on July 8, 2016.
|Year||Overall||Pct.||Big Ten||Pct.||Finish||NCAA Finish
|PSU||169-55-14||.739||87-15-6||.833||10 apps. (21-9-1)|
|Career||209-83-17||.703||13 apps. (24-12-1)|