Six Nittany Lions In Spain For U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team Opportunity
The defending National Champion Penn State women’s soccer team is well represented in La Manga, Spain, as six Nittany Lions, the most of any team in the NCAA, made the final U-20 roster for the 2016 Under-23 La Manga Tournament.
Junior midfielder Emily Ogle, who’s started all 51 matches of her career thus far, leads an underclassmen-heavy group of teammates to earn a prestigious roster spot. Joining the 2015 Women’s College Cup All-Tournament Team selection are former All-Big Ten Freshman defenders Maddie Elliston, a junior from Omaha, Neb., and Ellie Jean, a sophomore out of Coventry, Conn. Standout goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom’s presumed heir apparent, redshirt sophomore Rose Chandler, will give Penn State fans a glimpse of what to look forward to in net this fall, while incoming freshman goalie Amanda Dennis will play for the U.S. U-18 squad. All-Big Ten Freshman and Second Team member Kaleigh Riehl is fresh off a fantastic first season on campus and should terrorize opposing forwards in the defensive third.
Ogle, a Strongsville, Ohio native, scored four of her seven goals this past season — a 22-3-2 gem of a campaign capped off by Erica Dambach’s Nittany Lions winning the first National Championship in program and Big Ten history — during NCAA Tournament action. How’s that for clutch? Ogle also played an instrumental role in stopping opponents in their tracks (the defense didn’t allow a single goal [20-0] in seven matches) alongside a few terrific backs in Elliston, Jean, and Riehl.
Elliston missed the first month of the 2015 season due to injury, but went on to start seven matches down the stretch, including the 1-0 National Championship win over Duke. She was one of four Nittany Lions who were invited to Los Angeles for a U.S. Women’s National Team U-20 training camp in early January. Ogle, Chandler, and Riehl also participated in the week-long session, giving Penn State the most representatives out of the 26 players in attendance. Jean was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI Second Team for her performance in 26 matches (21 starts) on the pitch in 2015. Jean made a habit of tracking down attacks thanks to her flat-out speed and awareness — rare traits for a true freshman. Penn State’s defense strung together an immaculate eight-plus-match shutout streak to capture the collegiate crown, and Jean was a big reason why.
A product of Atlanta, Ga., Chandler has been waiting in the wings to carry on the Nittany Lions’ strong tradition between the pipes. With three years to learn under the tutelage of Eckerstrom, the CONCACAF Female Goalkeeper of the Year nominee and member of the 2014 U.S. U-20 World Cup roster has an opportunity to make a statement in Spain. The future of Penn State’s goalie situation is in excellent shape with 6-foot Palmetto, Fla., standout Amanda Dennis preparing for her college career by playing with the U.S. U-18 bunch in La Manga. Dennis attended California’s Murrieta Valley High School, where she made a name for herself as the nation’s second-ranked goalkeeper in the 2016 recruiting class, according to Top Drawer Soccer.
Riehl, of Fairfax Station, Va., is one of the most exciting young Penn State defenders in recent memory, being named to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI First Team following a magnificent true freshman season that saw her start all 27 matches. Riehl also picked up 2015 College Cup All-Tournament Team honors for her help in bringing home the Nittany Lions’ first national title. Riehl is no stranger to the U.S. U-20 stage, earning her first cap against France this past June, prior to enrolling at Penn State, then landing a spot on the U-20 Women’s World Cup roster.
Ogle, Elliston, Jean, Chandler, Dennis, and Riehl will make the Penn State community proud this week while wearing the brand new U.S. crest over their hearts in Spain. The 2016 La Manga Tournament starts for Team USA on Wednesday, March 2 against Sweden, with matches against England and Norway on March 4 and 6.
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