Four Nittany Lions Move On To World Cup Knockout Stage
The greatest spectacle in sports is heating up, and four former Penn State soccer players will be right in the midst of the action as the FIFA Women’s World Cup’s knockout rounds begin this week.
Costa Rica was the only team featuring a Penn State player that didn’t escape the group stage, as Raquel Rodriguez’s squad will leave Canada with two draws and one loss. The short campaign wasn’t for naught, however. Rodriguez managed to score the first-ever World Cup goal for Team Costa Rica and the first-ever by a Nittany Lion.
Team Canada played the role of gracious hosts as it won its first game against China 1-0 before a scoreless draw with New Zealand and a 1-1 tie with the Netherlands. Starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod (a two-year starter from Penn State’s Class of 2005) led the team to the Round of 16, as she only allowed two goals in three games. McLeod’s classmate, defender Carmelina Moscato, saw much less playing time, but still had a decent showing. Moscato didn’t see the pitch in the first match against China or in the first half against New Zealand. She was subbed in during the 68th minute of the game, and went on to play the entirety of the draw with the Netherlands.
Team USA has been the most impressive team to feature Penn State players thus far, winning two games and tying one. Goalie Alyssa Naeher didn’t play at all (which makes sense, because she’s teammates with the world’s best goalie), but Ali Krieger has been an integral part of the American’s early success. Krieger played at Penn State from 2003 to 2006, and she’s best-known for scoring the penalty kick at the 2011 World Cup that propelled her team past Brazil and all the way to the final. She spent every minute of the group stage on the field and was a bright spot on the team’s defense. She also shined as one of the most trustworthy members of the back line to carry the ball up and jump in on the attack with Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, or Abby Wambach.
Unfortunately, if Team USA and Team Canada are to meet at this World Cup, it will have to be in the finals, as the two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket. Canada will play first on Sunday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET against Switzerland. As of FIFA’s latest world rankings in March, the Canadians have the eighth-best team in the world, while the Swiss are at No. 19. The winner of that match will take on the winner of England and Norway, and the winner of that will punch its ticket to the semifinals.
The day after the Canada-Switzerland matchup, Team USA will take on Colombia in Edmonton (for reference, in March FIFA ranked the U.S. at No. 2 and Colombia at No. 28), with the winner moving on to play China or Cameroon. The winner of that will likely take on a very dangerous French or German team.
So it’s possible (though unlikely) that we’ll see Canada and the U.S. face off against each other at this World Cup. Rest assured, if it does happen, it’ll be thanks in large part to Penn State’s very own Erin McLeod and Ali Krieger.