#2 Penn State Women's Soccer 2013 Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions

Overall Rank #2
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten

#2 Penn State Women's Soccer 2013 Preview

Penn State Team Page


The Penn State Women's Soccer program had a historic 2012 season. The Nittany Lions made it all the way to their first national title match where they fell to North Carolina 4-1. Penn State continues to dominate the Big Ten as they won another regular season championship for the 15th season in a row. A veteran team returns that should be highly motivated to get back to the title match after getting their first taste of it last December in San Diego.

2012 Record:  21-4-2, 10-0-1
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Erica Walsh

The ability to be very dynamic with their attack has been a staple of Penn State program over the years. Maya Hayes is the leading returning scorer with 16 goals and should be in the mix for National Player of the Year honors in 2013.  Hayes was a M.A.C Hermann Trophy Finalist in 2011 and has an absolutely dynamic mix of speed and skill that makes her one of the best attacking players in all of women’s college soccer. Raquel Rodriguez is an excellent playmaker who will help orchestrate this explosive attack in 2013. Rodriguez had 11 assists in 2012 and her versatility makes her a very dangerous offensive weapon as well for Coach Walsh. The Nittany Lions are also very tough at home as they went 10-1-2 and were very a consistent 8-1-0 away from Happy Valley in 2012. If Penn State can follow up with a similar 8-1-0 record away from home, then they will be in great position to host all the way through the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Penn State needs to replace the explosive production of Christine Nairn, who scored 17 goals and had 12 assists in 2012. Nairn was the top draft pick of the Seattle Reign of the NWSL and was a huge reason Penn State went all the way to the National Championship Final last season. The goalkeeper question also needs to be answered with the departure of Erin McNulty to graduation. Britt Eckerstrom has the most playing experience to bring to the table as she appeared in 11 matches in 2012 and started four. Eckerstrom was 4-0-0 with a 0.89 goals against average and should be the leading candidate to take over in goal. Incoming freshman Chloe Buehler should also push Eckerstrom for early playing time as well this fall.

Final Projection:
The non-conference schedule for Penn State is highlighted by two key regional matchups. The season opens at home against the reigning Big 12 regular season champion, West Virginia, on August 23rd. The key road test will be a return trip to Charlottesville to take on Virginia. The Nittany Lions got out of the gates strong with a win in Charlottesville in 2012 and built on that momentum all the way to the National Championship match. The conference schedule has a key matchup with Michigan on October 13. The Wolverines’ ability to defend at a high level will be a great test for the Penn State attack. Overall, if Maya Hayes can put up Christine Nairn like numbers and the defense evolves, then look for the Nittany Lions to make a serious run once again at the College Cup and the National Championship in 2013.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Maya Hayes, Senior, Forward, 16
Assists: Raquel Rodriguez, Sophomore, Forward/Midfield, 11
Shots:  Maya Hayes, Senior, Forward, 80
Saves:  Britt Eckerstrom, Redshirt Sophomore, Goalkeeper, 27

Madness 2014 NWSL Draft Rankings:
#6 Maya Hayes

Madness 2013 Women's Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#67 Brittany Basinger
#86 Salina Williford


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