Nittany Lion Women's Soccer Announces 2012 Schedule
May 29, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team announced its official 19-game slate for the 2012 season, which features five 2011 NCAA Tournament teams including defending national champion Stanford at Jeffrey Field on Aug. 24. The Stanford match is one of nine home games set for Jeffrey Field, where Penn State went a perfect 9-0-0 last year. The 14-time Big Ten Champions open the season at Virginia on Aug. 17.
"I am excited for our team to play against some of the best teams in the county this season," Head coach Erica Walsh said entering her sixth year at the helm of Penn State. "Having the defending champ [Stanford] at Jeffrey Field will be a great early test along with our annual matches with Virginia and West Virginia on the road."
Penn State holds a record of 203-33-14 all-time against its 2012 opponents for a .840 winning percentage. Additionally, the Nittany Lions are 169-26-12 (.845) against Big Ten foes, which includes last year's 12-2-0 mark when the Big Ten Tournament is factored in. Also included in the schedule are four games against last year's NCAA RPI top 25 (Stanford, 2nd; Virginia, 5th; Illinois, 17th; West Virginia, 22nd) with two more against top 50 sides in Ohio State (34th) and Central Michigan (50th).
The Lions begin the fall season with a home exhibition contest against Villanova on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. The Virginia match on Friday, Aug. 17 is slated for 7 p.m., representing the second time in four years that the two teams will square off in the season opener. Last season, Penn State won a 3-2 match over the then-No. 7 Cavaliers in Charlottesville for a 6-2-1 edge in the all-time series. Virginia advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals a year ago.
Penn State faces a quick turnaround for its home opener when it welcomes St. John's to Jeffrey Field for a 2:30 p.m. match on Sunday, Aug. 19. The Nittany Lions and Red Storm have never played each other on the women's soccer field, but St. John's did visit Happy Valley in 2009 for an NCAA Regional, falling in penalty kicks to Virginia.
The following week, one of the best collegiate women's soccer tournaments will grace Jeffrey Field at the eighth annual Penn State Invitational with national powers Stanford, Penn State, West Virginia and Mid-American Conference favorite Central Michigan in the field. The tournament features three teams ranked in the final 2011 NSCAA Top 25 poll in Stanford (1st), Penn State (8th) and West Virginia (18th). WVU fell in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament to Virginia Tech.
"Our annual tournament is among the best every year and we get huge crowds for the games," Walsh added. "Our fans will see four great women's soccer programs in Happy Valley."
WVU and CMU play at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24 followed by defending national champion Stanford and Penn State at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 26, Stanford takes on West Virginia at Noon before Penn State tackles Central Michigan at 2:30 p.m. Penn State fell 4-0 at Stanford last season in the teams' only meeting and the Lions have never faced the Chippewas before.
Early season tournament play continues on Friday, Aug. 31 as Penn State participates in the first ever WVU 90 Minute Classic against the host Mountaineers. The Lions trail 4-5-0 all-time against WVU, but earned a resounding 5-0 victory over the then-No. 17 Mountaineers at Jeffrey Field, capturing a victory for the second time in three tries in the series. The tournament wraps up on Sunday, Sept. 2 when Penn State faces Keystone State rival Pittsburgh at 2:30 p.m. in Morgantown, W.Va. Penn State is a dominating 8-0-0 over Pitt including last year's 3-0 away win.
Penn State takes its first flight of 2012 for a Saturday, Sept. 8 match at Brigham Young with a 9 p.m. ET kick-off. BYU's South Field is known as one of the best venues for women's soccer in the nation as evidenced by the Cougars leading NCAA in overall attendance with 31,679 (2,882 average; 2nd in NCAA). BYU represents Penn State's third and final first-time opponent of the season as well as the final non-conference road game of the year.
"We try to take a trip out west every year and BYU looks to be another awesome experience for our student-athletes," Walsh noted. "Last season we visited Stanford, the year before we were at Portland, so giving our kids the chance to experience tough road environments with great fans will prepare us for a run in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament."
Penn State dives into Big Ten play in search of its 15th straight Big Ten title against the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Noon. Penn State is an outstanding 167-20-6 all-time at Jeffrey Field with a 86-3-3 mark in Big Ten play. The Lions will look to exact a measure of revenge against the Badgers, who have won the past two meetings in the series.
The Lions then hit the road for three Big Ten matches, two of which are against NCAA teams from a year ago in Illinois (Sunday, Sept. 23, 2 p.m. ET) and Ohio State (Thursday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m. ET). Leading into that tough two-game stretch is an away match against Northwestern (Friday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. ET).
The Lions begin a three-game stretch at Jeffrey Field with Minnesota on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. A quick turnaround two days later welcomes the final non-conference foe Bucknell for the teams' 17th all-time meeting. Penn State boasts an impressive 15-0-1 record against the Bison with a 32-2-1 all-time record against teams from Pennsylvania. The Lions are currently enjoying a 26-0-1 stretch against Keystone State teams over the past 14 years. Indiana visits Jeffrey Field on Sunday, Oct. 7.
Penn State makes its first trip ever to Lincoln, Neb. to face the Cornhuskers of Nebraska on Friday, Oct. 12 (5 p.m. ET), a rematch of last year's barnburning 5-4 victory at Jeffrey Field. The Lions travel to Iowa two days later to try and keep its perfect 17-0-0 record against the Hawkeyes intact at 2 p.m. ET.
The Michigan schools journey to Jeffrey Field as the MSU Spartans play Friday, Oct. 19 (7 p.m.) before the Wolverines play Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. Penn State's final regular season game is at Purdue on Friday, Oct. 26.
The Big Ten Tournament will be hosted by Indiana beginning Wednesday, Oct. 31 and concluding Sunday, Nov. 4 as Penn State looks for Big Ten Tournament title No. 6. The NCAA Tournament will begin the following week following the same format as the 2011 edition with single sites for the opening round, regional sites for the next two rounds and a single site for the quarterfinals leading into the College Cup. This year's Women's College Cup will be hosted by the University of San Diego at Torero Stadium Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
Penn State returns the majority of it scoring from last year's Sweet Sixteen squad as MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.), two-time NSCAA All-American Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.), Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) and Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) tallied 52 goals and 38 assists (142 points) lead the Lion offense. Penn State loses just two senior starters from last year's team and will welcome back All-Big Ten Second Team goalkeeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) for her final year of eligibility. Also back with Penn State is NSCAA All-Region First Team and All-Big Ten First Team defender Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) as well as All-Big Ten Freshman Team honorees Kori Chapic (Novelty, Ohio), Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) and Hurd.
2012 PENN STATE HOME SCHEDULE