For PSU women's soccer team, national title next logical step
By Jeff Vella
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
North Carolina 4, Penn State 1.
Despite all of the Nittany Lions' success last fall during their history-making run to the NCAA women's soccer championship game, the way the season ended still vexes senior Taylor Schram.
“I can definitely say that for the people who were here last year, a day hasn't gone by where we haven't thought about last year,” said Schram, a Canon-McMillan graduate. “It's pretty bittersweet to make it to the national championship game and then lose. It was our goal to make it, but to lose as badly as we did was pretty upsetting.”
With eight of 11 starters returning, including two-time Big Ten Forward of the Year Maya Hayes, motivation hasn't been an issue as Penn State seeks the program's first national title.
“I was very glad to learn that the team wasn't satisfied with getting that far,” said coach Erica Walsh, whose team is No. 4 in the preseason poll. “I think there's a renewed spirit within the group to finish it off.”
For Schram, this season also offers a chance to hit the reset button following a physically and mentally draining 2012. She missed the first half of the year recovering from a concussion. She then experienced one of the high points of her career when she played for the Under-20 World Cup team that won gold in Japan.
But when Schram returned to Penn State, she suffered another concussion during her first practice. That sidelined her for four more games, so by the time she made her season debut, it was Oct. 2.
Schram said the toughest part of returning from the concussions was the mental side.
“I was afraid, you could say, to get hit again,” said Schram, a forward/midfielder who finished the season with five goals and one assist. “That was constantly in the back of my mind. Am I going to get hit again? Will I have a headache? It was small things like that. I think I've made huge strides in the last nine months overcoming those mental hurdles. I don't think it's going to be an issue this year.”
Schram said she's never felt more fit and strong and that she feels an increased sense of urgency going into her senior season. She also has a new title: captain.
“There's nobody more competitive than Taylor Schram, whether it's on the field or playing a game of cards,” Walsh said. “Everybody likes to be around a winner. Everybody follows a winner.”
Leading scorer Christine Nairn was among the starters Penn State graduated, but talent shouldn't be a problem this fall.
In addition to Schram and Hayes, Penn State brings back junior Whitney Church, the Big Ten Defender of the Year, plus midfielder Raquel Rodriguez, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
“The whole feel of this year's team is different,” Walsh said. “Not better or worse, just different. I think it's a good thing because I don't think anyone is trying to recreate exactly what we did in 2012 but more redefine this team.”
Jeff Vella is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JeffVella_Trib.
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.
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- Pirates general manager Huntington is searching for right player, deal
- Help on deck to help Jeannette deal with Monsour, nearby buildings
- PNC plans to do away with tellers
- Woodley says he’s fine with move to right side despite numbers
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Pirates notebook: Polanco ruled out as Opening Day option
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- Highmark health plan enrollment skyrockets from Healthcare.gov