Women’s Soccer Seniors Share Special Moment Against Purdue
Penn State honored its seniors Sunday at Jeffrey Field in a 1-0 win over Purdue.
Nickolette Driesse, a midfielder from New Jersey, has been one of the key leaders this past season as the only officially listed senior on the roster. She played a key role in the special game with her family in the crowd.
“Always, being on Jeffrey Field is a great opportunity,” Driesse said. “Adding my family to that, I don’t think it could get any better.”
Driesse has started all 16 games this year for the Nittany Lions. The midfielder has been a key playmaker for Penn State, registering a team-high six assists this year. Coach Erica Dambach credits a large part of the team’s success this season to her drive, talent, and work ethic.
“Nicki Driesse is a winner,” Dambach said. “In many ways, whether it’s her contribution on the field and so much off the field, in the classroom. She’s exactly what we want in this program as a Penn State women’s soccer player.”
Her work ethic shows on the field — she’s always willing to do what she can to bring the team success.
“I always like to think that I’m going to put my body on the line,” Driesse said. “If I’m not always going to be the best player on the field, then at least I’m going to be working the hardest.”
Sitting in a deep role in the midfield this year, Driesse has been tasked with starting the offense from the back and being the buffer in front of the back line on the defensive end. Her experience has been paramount for this team from a leadership standpoint.
It’s this rich experience that makes her somewhat unique in college soccer. Driesse is a two-time National Champion, once with Penn State and once with Florida State. She’s taken her experiences from two touted programs in the sport and it has helped her grow as a player.
These experiences and this growth have been apparent as this young Penn State team tries to push itself to the next level in a crucial part of the season.
“I continue to credit Nicki Driesse for driving this team,” Dambach said. “It’s hard when you’ve got one senior on the field to drive the standard. She continues to do it and she can’t do it on her own, though. We’re calling on her too much right now.”
While she’s been the only senior on the field, Penn State has another important senior presence on its bench.
Angela Widlacki has been part of the Nittany Lions team for the past four years, but after three ACL tears, she never got the chance to take the field for Penn State.
“She is just kind of the heart and soul of this team. Regardless of whether she’s healthy or not, it’s the same personality, attitude, fight, and determination,” Dambach said.
Widlacki hopes to get into coaching, which she tried out with the Chicago Red Stars Academy last summer. She’s helped out Dambach this season in more of a player/coaching role — coming in at halftime with her perspectives of what she’s seen in the team.
On Sunday, however, she put the coaching role to the side. Honored during pregame, Widlacki got an even bigger honor in the final moments of the game — she finally got the chance to get into a match.
90' | 1-0 PSU | Angela Widlacki enters for Echard.
— Penn State Women’s Soccer (@PennStateWSOC) October 16, 2016
“She’s been through a lot,” Dambach said. “It’s important to recognize the contribution that these players make.”