Penn State Women And Men’s Soccer Rank In Preseason Top 25
After a successful season of Penn State Futbol last year, the men and women’s teams are ready to get to work as both teams were credited as two of the top teams in the nation in preseason rankings. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranks the women’s soccer team as the sixth-best team in the country, while the men’s squad starts out the season at No. 23.
The No. 6 ranking for the women’s soccer team stems from the team’s 20-4-0 record, a Big Ten title, and a run to the program’s 10th NCAA quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions were a dominant team last year, especially in the Big Ten, as they only lost once in conference play. Women’s head coach Erica Walsh should expect the same type of dominance this season, as the team is keeping a large amount of the talent from last year.
Plenty of the offensive explosiveness seen on the 2014 squad will be returning to Happy Valley to help seize another Big Ten title for the program. One of the stars returning to the Nittany Lions is the senior goalscorer Raquel Rodriguez. Rodriguez burst onto the national scene this summer as she scored the first ever World Cup goal for Costa Rica against Spain in a match that ended with a 1-1 draw. Rodriquez will once again be joined up front by Mallory Weber and Frannie Crouse, along with fellow seniors Megan Ritchey and Britt Eckerstrom.
While falling nine spots from last year’s preseason ranking, the men’s team looks to continue where it left off last season with another NCAA Tournament appearance. The Nittany Lions finished off the season with a record of 13-6-1 while also making it to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The past season was enough to make the Top-25 preseason rankings along with three other Big Ten Schools — Michigan St. (9), Maryland (13), and Indiana (14).
The Nittany Lions expect to continue their winning ways behind reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Connor Maloney, along with other key returning players. However, the 2015 squad will have to look to find help to replace departing difference makers like Mikey Minutillo and Andrew Wolverton.
Both teams sit at opposite ends of the spectrum of their respective rankings; one is in the top-10 and is expecting to continue their dominance, while another is on the edge of the top-25 and is out to prove they can stay at the same level of last season. However, both teams will have the same goals going into the upcoming season — bringing a national championship to Happy Valley.