Penn State women's soccer team faces best in College Cup
College Football Videos
The NCAA women's College Cup is not a place for Cinderellas.
Soccer's version of the Final Four is reserved for the blue bloods of the sport, and four will gather this weekend in San Diego.
Top seeds Penn State and Florida State meet at 8:30 p.m. Friday, and defending national champion Stanford takes on 20-time national champion North Carolina at 11 p.m. The title game is 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Nittany Lions (20-3-2) are making their 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, but they're looking for their first national title.
“It's something we've talked about since the spring,” said junior Maya Hayes, the two-time Big Ten Forward of the Year. “It would mean everything to go out and do it. It's what we've worked all these years for.”
It's no coincidence that two of the final four teams are from the ACC. Long considered the best conference in women's soccer, the ACC sent nine of its 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Penn State already has knocked off two — Duke and Boston College.
FSU (20-3), which won the conference, is making its second straight College Cup appearance.
“In the ACC, you need great athletes who are also soccer players,” Penn State coach Erica Walsh said. “There's only a handful of them. (Florida State) has a bunch. We have a bunch. There are only about 10 programs in the nation that have them.”
Penn State and Florida State have other things in common. Goalie Erin McNulty played two years for the Seminoles before coming to Penn State as a graduate student. Walsh served as an assistant under FSU coach Mark Krikorian in 2005, and she calls him a mentor. The two also worked together on the U.S. Under-19 team in 2004.
“I can tell you I learned a lot from her,” Krikorian said, “and I've incorporated those things — collective defending, off-field player management.
“She's one of the brightest coaches I've been around. She's done a great job building (Penn State) into one of the top programs in the nation.”
Krikorian said the thing that concerns him most about the Nittany Lions is their transition attack, which has helped them average a nation-leading 2.92 goals per game. Senior midfielder Christine Nairn (16 goals, 11 assists) and Hayes (15 goals, six assists) lead the way, and both are among the 15 semifinalists for the Hermann Trophy.
“When we're firing on all cylinders,” Walsh said, “we're a team that can win a national championship.”
Jeff Vella is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gateway grad Parrish ready to do his part for Panthers
- Jeannette an ‘important school’ to St. Vincent football coach Dolciato
- Kellar feels Vulcans can be playoff threat
- District college notes: WCCC duo continuing college baseball careers
- District college notebook: RMU’s Brett nets 2nd 4-goal game of career
- D3 football preview: Last year’s impact freshmen look to avoid sophomore jinx
- Cal (Pa.) women’s volleyball seeks strong follow-up to last year’s PSAC title season
- Switching roles on defense doesn’t faze Duquesne LB Stone