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Rules of the Game

Soccer is a game played by two teams of eleven players each, including a goalkeeper. Each team attempts to kick a soccer ball into its opponent’s goal; they also may use their heads and torsos.  With the exception of the goalkeepers, no player is permitted to touch the ball in the field of play with her hands. 

A soccer game consists of two 45-minute halves; the team with the most goals wins. If the score is tied, two ten-minute overtime periods are played; the first team to score wins the game.  If a conference tournament or national tournament game is tied after the two overtime periods, a “shoot out” is conducted; each team is allowed five attempts to score against the goalkeeper without any other defenders.  If after five attempts the score is still tied, the “shoot-out” continues until one team scores and the other does not.

A soccer field (pitch) is rectangular, and varies in size, the optimum being 120 yards long and 75 yards wide; goals are eight yards wide and eight feet high.  Penn State plays its home games at 5,000 seat capacity Jeffrey Field, across from the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State Women’s Soccer History

Women’s soccer did not become a varsity sport at Penn State until the 1994 season.  It started out as a women’s soccer club in 1977, and became a recognized club sport in 1979.  Upon attaining varsity status, the program quickly became a dominant program in the Big Ten Conference, and now is one of the nation’s elite.

Penn State’s first varsity game in 1994 was a 4-1 losing effort at James Madison; Rachel Hoffman has the distinction of scoring the first Nittany Lion goal.  A week later, Penn State gained its first victory, 4-1, at Towson State.  The first victory at Jeffrey Field (and the first Big 10 victory for the program) came a week later against Indiana, 2-1.  The Nittany Lions finished the season with a 14-4-1 record.  In 1995, the team first appeared in the national soccer rankings and qualified for the NCAA tournament.  Penn State’s first NCAA tournament victory came in 1996.  Later that year, they became the first American women’s soccer team to play in London’s legendary Wembley Stadium, losing a close match to London Select, 3-2 in front of 40,000 fans.

Penn State began its dominance of Big 10 women’s soccer 1998.  The Nittany Lions won the first of 15 regular season Big 10 championships, won the Big 10 Tournament, and advanced to the final eight in the NCAA Tournament, while Kelly Convey became Penn State’s first first-team all-American.  In 1999, Penn State made its first appearance in the College Cup (the women’s soccer equivalent of basketball’s Final Four), losing to eventual champion North Carolina, 2-0, in the national semi-finals.  That year also saw the debut of world-class player Christie Welsh. 

In 2000, the team recorded an amazing seventeen shutouts, and made it to the final eight in the NCAA tournament.  Welsh capped her Penn State career in 2002 by leading the Nittany Lions to another College Cup appearance, losing again in the semi-finals.  In 2005, led by the record-breaking play of Tiffany Weimer, the Nittany Lions won their eighth consecutive Big 10 regular season championship, were ranked number one in the nation for five consecutive weeks, and lost only twice (both times in shootouts).  The team appeared in its third College Cup in seven years, losing in a shootout to eventual champion Portland State in a scoreless semi-final game.  Also, 2005 marked the sixth consecutive season that a Penn State player came in either first or second for the Hermann Trophy as women’s soccer’s best player, and that at least one player made first-team All-American.

In 2007, under new coach Erica Walsh, Penn State won its 10thconsecutive Big 10 regular season championship. Walsh served as an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medal winning team, and goalie Erin McLeod played in goal for Canada’s Olympic team.  In 2009, en route to its 12th straight B10 championship and 15th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the team swept the Conference awards, winning Coach, Offensive Player, Defensive Player, and Freshman of the Year.  In 2010, the team finished with a share of the Big 10 championship by virtue of a goal with 17 seconds left in the second overtime of the season finale against Michigan.  

In 2011, 4 Penn Staters participated in the Women’s World Cup – Erica Walsh (coach) and Ali Krieger (both for silver-medal winning USA), and Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato (both for Canada); Krieger scored the game-clinching penalty kick in the miraculous quarter-final victory over Brazil.  The Nittany Lions finished the season ranked 8th nationally, as sophomore Maya Hayes led the nation in goals (31) and total points (70). Her points total was both Penn State and Big 10 single season records, she was the Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year, and she was a finalist for the Hermann Award (women’s soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy). 

The 2012 season duplicated the overall program success of the 2009 team, and then some.  The Nittany Lions were one of 4 PSU fall teams to win a Conference championship, and one of 5 to have the Conference Coach of the Year.  The team finished with a 21-4-2 record, and won its 15th consecutive Big 10 regular season championship (although it lost 1-0 to Illinois in the Conference Tournament semi-final round).  PSU then advanced to the NCAA championship game, losing to North Carolina 4-1 (the game was 1-1 at the half).  Memorable moments abounded.  The team lost on a late goal to defending national champion Stanford before a record Jeffrey Field crowd of 5,117.  After falling behind Michigan, 2-0 in the shootout of an NCAA quarter-final, the Lions won 3-2.  In the NCAA semi-final match, the Lions led 1-0 until Florida State scored with 41 seconds left to tie it, but PSU scored in the first minute of overtime to advance to the national championship game.

Nittany Lions won 5 major 2012 Big 10 awards, earning Coach, Offensive Player, Midfielder, Defender, and Freshman of the Year honors.  Hayes and Taylor Schram were members of the Women’s Under-20 World Cup gold-medal winning team (Raquel Rodriguez played for Costa Rica), and Schramm won the Dapper Dan Award as Pittsburgh area Sportswoman of the Year.  Soccer alumnae Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato were members of the Canadian soccer team that won a 2012 Olympics bronze medal. 


In 2015, the program experienced success like never before.  In the summer, 5 Nittany lions participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the pinnacle of the sport.  Starting defender Ali Krieger (’06) and backup goaltender Alyssa Naher (’09) became the first PSU players to win the World Cup.  Starting goaltender Erin McLeod (’05) and defender Carmelina Moscato (’05) played for Canada.  Also, Raquel Rodriguez (’15) started for Costa Rica, and her goal in game 1 was the first World Cup goal scored by Costa Rica, and by a Penn State woman.


 The summer magic continued into the collegiate season.  The Nittany Lions won their 17th Conference championship in 18 seasons and finished with a 22-3-2 record.  They capped off the campaign by winning the program’s 1st national championship.  Penn State goalkeepers shut out the opposition 15 times, including the final 8 matches (all 6 NCAA Tournament games and the final 2 Big 10 Tournament games); they allowed only 1 goal 10 times, and gave up 2 goals only twice (both 4-2 victories).  Senior Goalie Britt Eckerstrom tied McLeod’s program record of 22 victories in a season.  Erica Walsh won her 2nd NSCAA Coach of the Year Award.


 But the story of the season was Rodriguez.  A co-captain of the team, she scored the only goal in the National Championship game against Duke and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College Cup (the final four).  She garnered several national awards, including the Honda Sport Award, the TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Year Award, the NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year.  She capped off the year by winning the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy (the “Heisman Trophy of Soccer”), thus joining Christie Welch as Penn State’s only winners of this prestigious award.

In 2018, the Nittany Lions were regular season Big Ten champions for the 19th time, finishing with an 18-6-1 record (9-2 in the Big Ten).  In the Conference Tournament, Penn State allowed 0 goals in 4 games, but lost in the Championship game on penalty kicks to Minnesota.  Penn State then reached the NCAA Tournament quarter-file game but lost to eventual National Champion Florida State 1-0; the Lions finished 8th in the final national rankings.

Erica Dambach was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the 4th time, Emily Ogle was the Conference Midfielder of the Year (the 3rd Nittany Lion to receive this honor), and Kaleigh Riehl was the Defender of the Year (the 5th Nittany Lion to do so).  Riehl, was named a 1st Team All-American, she and Ogle were 1st team Scholar All-Americans, and, along with Frankie Tagliaferri, were 1st Team All-Big Ten and All-North  Region selections.

The 2019 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team included 2 Penn Staters – Ali Krieger (’06) and starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (’08).

The 2019 {Penn state team finished the season with a 17-7-1 record, winning its last 6 regular season Conference games and then capturing the Big Ten Tournament Championship with an overtime victory over Michigan.  The Lions then advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 before being eliminated (for the 2nd consecutive year) by eventual 2019 national champion Stanford (Penn State also opened the 2019 season with a loss to Stanford).  Ally Schlegel was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and was a 1st Team All-Conference selection along with Kaleigh Riehl, Sam Coffey, and Kerry Abello; Riehl was also named to the All-American 2nd Team.


In its 22 seasons of Big Ten play, the Lions have won a Conference regular season and/or Conference Tournament championship in 21 of those seasons!


Team Accomplishments 

Final Top 10 National Rankings
1996 (10), 1998 (7), 1994 (4), 2000 (6), 1999 (4), 2000 (6), 2001 (6), 2002 (4), 2003 (6), 2004 (9), 2005 (2), 2006 (7), 2011 (8), 2012 (2) 2014 (6), 2015 (1), 2017(5), 2018(8)  

Big 10 Regular Season Champions
1998-2012, 2014 - 2016, 2018 

Big 10 Tournament Champions
1998, 2000, 2001, 20006, 2008, 2015, 2017, 2019

NCAA Tournament Appearances
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 (final 8), 1999(semi-final), 2000 (final 8), 2001 (final 8),   2002 (semi-final), 2003 (final 8), 2004, 2005(semi-final), 2006 (final 8), 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 (final 16), 2012 (final), 2013, 2014 (final 8), 2015 (champion), 2016,  2017 (final 8), 2018 (final 8), 2019

College Cup appearances
1999 (semi-final), 2002 (semi-final),  2005 (semi-final), 2012 (final), 2015 champion


Pat Farmer (1994-2000) 123-34-8

1998 Big 10 Coach of the Year
1999 National Coach of the Year

Paula Wilkins (2001-2006) 121-22-8 

2001 co-Big 10 Coach of the Year
2004, 2005, 2006 Big 10 Coach of the Year
2005 Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year
2005 NSCAA Coach of the Year   

Erica Walsh Dambach (2007-present) 207-68-16

2009, 2012, 2014, 2018 Big 10 Coach of the Year
2014 ECAC Div I Coach of the Year
2008 Assistant Coach of Olympic Gold Medal Winning team
2011 Assistant Coach of World Cup Silver Medal Winning Team
2012 Nat'l Soccer Coaches Assoc Coach of the Year    

Notable Players 

Christie Welsh (1999-2002)

1998 Gatorade H.S. Player of the Year
1999 Big 10 Freshman of the Year
1999-2001 Big 10 Player of the Year
1999-2001 1st Team All-American
2001 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner
2001/2 Suzy Favor Outstanding Big 10 Athlete  

Tiffany Weimer (2002-2005)

2002 Big 10 2002 Freshman of the Year
2004, 2005 Big 10 Player of the Year (offense)
2003-2005 1st Team All-American
2005/6 Suzy Favor Outstanding Big 10 Athlete
2005 Connecticut Athlete of the Year
PSU/Big 10 single season goal leader (32)
PSU/Big 10 career goal leader (91)

Christine Nairn (2009-2010)

2009 Big 10 Freshman of the Year
2012 Big 10 Midfielder of the Year
2009-2012 1st Team All-Big 10
2010-2011 captain Under-20 U.S. Nat’l Team
2012 1st Team All-America

Maya Hayes (2010-2013)

2011, 2012 Big 10 Forward of the Year
2011 National leader in goals (31) and points (70)
2011-2013 1st Team All-Big 10
2011, 2012 1st Team All-American
2011 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy finalist
2012, 2013 - M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semi-finalist

Whitney Church (2011-2014)

2012, 2014 Big 10 Defender of the Year
2014 ECAC Div I Defender of the Year
2012, 2014 1st Team All-Big 10, All-Great Lakes, All- ECAC Div I
2012, 2014 1st Team All-American
2014  M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semi-finalist

Raquel Rodriguez (2012-2015)

2012 Big 10 Freshman of the Year
2014, 2015 Big 10 Midfielder of the Year
2014, 2015 1st Team All-Big 10, 1st team All-District
2015 College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player
2015 Honda Sport Award
2015 TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Year
2015 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner
2013-2015 Academic All-Big 10
2014 Big 10 Distinguished Scholar
2015 NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year, 1st Team NSCAA Scholar All-America

Player Recognition

Big 10 Freshman of the Year - Emily Oleksiuk (1998); Christie Welsh (1999); Joanna Lohman (2000); Tiffany Weimer (2002); Ali Krieger (2003); Christine Nairn (2009); Raquel Rodriguez (2012), Emily Ogle (2014) , Ally Schlegel (2019)

Big 10 Player of the Year – Christie Welsh (1999, 2000, 2001); Joanna Lohman (2003)

Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year - Tiffany Weimer (Offensive, 2004, 2005); Ali Krieger (Co-Defensive, 2006); Alyssa Naeher (Defensive, 2007, 2009); Katie Schoepfer (Offensive, 2009); Maya Hayes (2011, 2012)

Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year – Natalie Jacobs (2004); Ali Krieger (Co-winner, 2006); Alyssa Naeher (2007, 2009); Whitney Church (2012, 2014) ; Kaleigh Riehl (2018) 

Big 10 Midfielder of the Year – Christine Nairn (2012), Raquel Rodriguez (2014),  Emily Ogle (2018)

Big 10 Forward of the Year - Maya Hayes (2011, 2012)

1st Team All-Americans – Kelly Convey (1998); Emily Oleksiuk (1999, 2000, 2001); Christie Welsh (1999, 2000, 2001); Joanna Lohman (2001, 2002, 2003); Tiffany Weimer (2003, 2004, 2005); Ali Krieger (2006); Alyssa Naeher (2007), Maya Hayes (2011, 2012); Christine Nairn (2012), Whitney Church (2014), Raquel Rodriguez (2015), Emily Ogle (2018), Kaleigh Riehl (2018), E


First Team All-Big 10 – 68 selections.  Four-time selectees are Rachel Hoffman, Emily Oleksiuk, Joanna Lohman, Christie Welsh, and Christine Nairn.

M.A.C. Hermann Trophy (National Player of the Year) – Christie Welsh (2nd in 2000, 2001 winner, 2ndin 2002); Joanna Lohman (2nd in 2003); Tiffany Weimer (2ndin 2004 and 2005), Maya Hayes (finalist, 2011, semi-finalist 2012, 2013), Christine Nairn (finalist, 2012), Whitney Church (semi-finalist, 2014), Raquel Rodriguez (winner in 2015)

Suzy Favor Outstanding Female Big 10 Athlete – Christie Welsh (2001/2); Tiffany Weimer (2005/6)

NSCAA Female Scholar Athlete of the Year – Joanna Lohman (2002-3)

NCAA Post-Graduate Fellowship – Joanna Lohman (2003)

Big 10 Medal of Honor – Joanna Lohman (2004)

Big 10 Distinguished Scholar – Raquel Rodriguez (2015), Emily Ogle (2017), Kaleigh Riehl (2017)

Olympics – Ali Krieger (USA, 2016); Alyssa Naeher (USA, 2016); Carmelina Moscato (Canada, 2016); Erin McLeod (Canada, 2016); Racquel Rodriguez (Costa Rica, 2016)

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