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Twelve Nittany Lions on Seven NWSL Opening Day Rosters

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April 11, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With opening day rosters finalized in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Monday, 12 former Penn State women’s soccer student-athletes are represented by seven NWSL clubs. Among college programs represented in the NWSL, Penn State ranks second behind North Carolina (14).

The Orlando Pride leads the NWSL with three Nittany Lions being represented by Nickolette Driesse (2015-16), Maddy Evans (2009-12), and Ali Krieger (2003-06). The Portland Thorns FC, Sky Blue FC, and the Washington Spirit each feature a pair of Nittany Lions on their 2017 opening day rosters. In Portland, 2015 Nittany Lion captains Britt Eckerstrom (2011-15) and Mallory Weber (2012-15) are reunited. Sky Blue FC features 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy runner-up Maya Hayes (2010-13) and 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Raquel Rodriguez (2012-15). Whitney Church (2011-14) and Joanna Lohman (2000-03) make up the Nittany Lion duo on the Washington Spirit roster.

In addition, three clubs each feature one Nittany Lion as Alyssa Naeher (2006-09) is on the Chicago Red Stars roster, Christine Nairn (2009-12) is a member of the Seattle Reign FC and Tiffany Weimer (2002-05) returns to the Boston Breakers for the 2017 season.

Church enters her third year with the Washington Spirit after being selected 30th overall by the club in the 2015 NWSL College Draft. During the 2016 season, Church, a defender, made appearances in 11 matches, which included seven starts.

A National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America first team selection, the 2014 Big Ten Defender of the Year and a MAC Hermann Trophy Award semifinalist, Church started 89 of Penn State's 100 matches from 2011-14 and concluded her career in Happy Valley as the program's all-time leader in minutes played (8,243).

Driesse, the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, begins her NWSL career with the Orlando Pride.

Driesse started all 21 matches for the Nittany Lions in the midfield during her senior season in 2016. On the year, she recorded eight points on one goal and six assists. Driesse's six assists last season led the Nittany Lions. She posted three-straight games with at least one assist (9/18-25) and she tied a career-best two assists in a 3-0 win at Maryland (10/9). Her lone goal of the season was the game-winner in a 6-0 victory against Bucknell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (11/11).

After being selected as the first goalkeeper in the 2016 NWSL College Draft with the No. 26 pick by the Western New York Flash, Eckerstrom started three matches and recorded a pair of shutouts for the 2016 NWSL champions before being traded to the Portland Thorns FC during the offseason. In Portland, Eckerstrom is reunited with fellow 2015 team captain and national champion, Mallory Weber.

During the 2015 season, Eckerstrom started all 27 matches tallying a record of 22-3-2, which included 15 shutouts. Eckerstrom and the Nittany Lion defense ended the 2015 season with eight-straight shutouts. The Nittany Lions did not allow a goal over the final 733:32 of the season and during that span, Eckerstrom played all but 19:23 in net for the Blue and White. Eckerstrom set the fourth-best solo shutout performance in school history with 12 shutouts and she tied Erin McLeod for wins in a season with 22 (2005).

Evans enters her second season with the Orlando Pride after being selected in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft. During the 2016 slate, Evans played in 16 matches, which included 12 starts, and she netted one assist.

A team captain of the 2012 Nittany Lions, Evans helped lead the Blue and White to its first National Championship appearance, earning second team All-Big Ten accolades that season. She started 63 of 88 games during her four-year Penn State career.

The sixth-overall NWSL draft pick by Sky Blue FC in 2014, Hayes enters her fourth season with Sky Blue FC. In 2016, Hayes played in 16 contests, which included eight starts, and she scored three goals.

At Penn State, she was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2012 and 2013, and the trophy runner-up in 2011 after setting a Big Ten record for single-season points with 70. Hayes captured three NSCAA All-American honors and three first team All-Big Ten plaudits during her Penn State career. Hayes closed out her career scoring the third-most goals (71) and points (163) in program history.

Krieger enters her fifth season in the NWSL, and her first with the Orlando Pride after being traded from Washington during the offseason. During the 2016 season, Krieger, a defender, played in 15 matches, which included 14 starts, and she tallied one goal.

Professionally, Krieger competed for FFC Frankfurt in Germany for five seasons, played in the WPS for one season and made seven appearances for Tyreso in Sweden before starting her career with the Washington Spirit in 2013. A two-time NSCAA All-American during a four-year Penn State career, Krieger was also the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist following her senior year.

The 2017 NWSL season will be Lohman’s 13th professional season as she has competed professionally in Cyprus, Sweden, Spain, the W-League, WPS and the NWSL. The 2016 season featured Lohman playing in all 20 regular season matches, posting 17 starts, scoring four goals and netting one assist.

For the Nittany Lions, Lohman started all 101 matches from 2000 to 2003, sitting in the top-10 for Penn State career assists (37), goals (41) and points (119). She was a three-time NSCAA All-American and a four-time first team All-Big Ten pick, garnering a MAC Hermann Trophy runner-up spot her senior year.

Naeher enters her eighth professional season and her second with the Chicago Red Stars. During the 2016 slate, Naeher started 13 matches, posted 43 saves and tied a league-best six shutouts.

Nairn enters her fifth professional season and her second with the Seattle Reign FC after being traded back to Seattle, the team that drafted her in 2013, from the Washington Spirit during this past offseason. In 2016 with the Washington Spirit, Nairn played in all 20 matches during the regular season, which included 18 starts. During the regular season, she scored three goals, netted three assists, and recorded 37 shots on goal.

While wearing the Blue and White during her senior season, Nairn led the 2012 team to its first-ever National Championship game with a team-best 17 goals and 12 assists.

Rodriguez, the 2016 NWSL Rookie of the Year, returns to Sky Blue FC for her second season in 2017. The 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy winner played in 18 matches, which included 17 starts, and tallied one goal and added one assist during the 2016 season.

Rodriguez' honors during her senior year included: MAC Hermann Trophy winner, Honda Sport Award winner, CONCACAF Female Player of the Year nominee, Most Outstanding Player on Offense of the Women's College Cup, Women's College Cup All-Tournament Team, NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year, NSCAA Scholar First Team All-American, NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team, NSCAA First Team All-American, All-Big Ten First Team, Academic All-Big Ten, TopDrawerSoccer Best XI First Team, TopDrawerSoccer's Player of the Year and 2015 College Sports Information of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Two first team.

The 2017 season marks the second year in Portland for Weber. The No. 14 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft by the Western New York Flash, made appearances in 13 matches, which included seven starts during the 2016 campaign. Weber is reunited with fellow 2015 team captain and national champion, Britt Eckerstrom.

Weber capped off her Nittany Lion career by tallying an assist on Rodriguez' game-winning goal in the 2015 College Cup Final. Weber recorded eight goals and 11 assists in the 2015 season. Weber's 11 assists in 2015 led the Nittany Lions and the Big Ten. Her 2015 awards included: College Cup All-Tournament team, NSCAA All-Great Lakes Second team, All-Big Ten First Team and Academic All-Big Ten.

During her Nittany Lion career, Weber played in 100 matches, which included 97 starts. She finished her time in Blue and White with 36 goals, 29 assists and 101 points.

Weimer returns to the NWSL after spending the 2016 season playing for Kvarnsveden in Sweden's Damallsvenskan. With Kvarnsveden in 2016, Weimer tallied five goals in 10 matches played.

Prior to Kvarnsveden, Weimer played for the Boston Breakers in 2015, was a member of the Washington Spirit in 2014 and she helped the Portland Thorns FC win the inaugural NWSL title in 2013 with 10 matches played. In all, 2017 marks her 10th season playing soccer professionally. A three-time NSCAA All-American, Weimer holds the program records for career goals (91) and has the second-most career points with 214.




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