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A Penn State Fan’s Guide To The 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

One of the biggest story lines of 2016 Penn State women’s soccer season was the fact that five players would sit out the season to play for the United States in the U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Three days after the Nittany Lions begin their NCAA Tournament title defense, those five players will begin their quest to reclaim the U-20 World Cup for the United States in Papua New Guinea. The Nittany Lions also have a freshman playing for Germany in the tournament. You can watch all matches live on the Fox family of networks.

Below is a breakdown of the Nittany Lions and their teams that will feature in the tournament.

United States

The United States is tied for the most U-20 World Cup titles with three in the seven tournaments all-time. USA last won in 2012 with Penn Staters Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram on the team. In the last tournament in 2014, North Korea defeated the United States in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks. Junior defender Brittany Basinger and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Rose Chandler made that roster from Penn State. Since beginning training camp for this tournament, USA is 2-2-1 with its only wins coming against Venezuela.

Here’s a breakdown of Nittany Lions on the 2016 roster:

Rose Chandler — Redshirt Sophomore Goalkeeper: Chandler has never gotten a start for Penn State, but has made her second U.S. U-20 World Cup team. Starting just once in the last five matches for USA, she will likely be the backup keeper behind Rutgers’ Casey Murphy.

Maddie Elliston — Redshirt Sophomore Defender: Elliston started all 24 games in 2014, but an injury hampered the start of her sophomore season in 2015. She played a major part in the NCAA Tournament run where the Penn State defense didn’t concede a goal through its entirety. She has started four of five matches since U.S. training camp began and will likely be the first choice outside back for the team.

Ellie Jean — Redshirt Freshman Defender: Jean started in 26 matches during her freshman season at Penn State, tallying six assists and earning All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors. An injury before the postseason run opened the door for Elliston to reclaim her spot and Jean mostly came off the bench during the NCAA Tournament. She has started every match since the beginning of U.S. training camp and is also likely a first choice outside back.

Emily Ogle — Redshirt Sophomore Midfielder: Ogle was a key piece in the midfield last season, slotted deep in the midfield next to MAC Hermann Trophy winner Rocky Rodriguez. She tallied four goals and two assists in a spectacular NCAA Tournament effort, playing a key role in the championship run. She’ll be key again for the national team, wearing the captain’s armband in recent matches. Ogle scored in the last match against Venezuela.

Kaleigh Riehl — Redshirt Sophomore Defender: Riehl started every single match for Penn State last season. She scored a goal and had two assists in the regular season before playing a huge role in the Nittany Lions’ defensive dominance during the postseason. Riehl has also started every game since training camp began in September and will likely be the starting center back for USA. She also had a goal in the last game against Venezuela.

United States Projected Starting XI (Penn State Players In Blue)

United States Group C Schedule:

  • France — Monday, November 14 at 1 a.m. (live on FS1)
  • New Zealand — Thursday, November 17 at 4 a.m. (live on FS1)
  • Ghana — Monday, November 21 at 1 a.m. (live on FS1)


Germany also has won three U-20 World Cups — tied for the record with the United States — and is the tournament’s defending champion. Coached by soccer legend Maren Meinert, Germany might be on course to break that tie with the United States. The Germans feature the only non-American Penn State player in this tournament.

Laura Freigang — Freshman Forward/Midfielder: Freigang is a hybrid forward-midfielder that is usually slotted right under the striker in the attack for Erica Dambach’s team. She scored two goals for Penn State this season before leaving to join Germany prior to the NCAA Tournament. With the Germans, she plays a similar No. 10 attacking midfield role. She started each match of last summer’s U-19 European Championships — a qualifier for the U-20 World Cup — where Germany lost to Sweden on penalty kicks. If Meinert sticks to similar tactics, Freigang will likely play a major starting role in Germany’s attack this tournament.

Germany Group D Schedule:

  • Venezuela — Monday, November 14 at 1 a.m. (live on FS2)
  • Mexico — Thursday, November 17 at 1 a.m. (live on FS1)
  • South Korea — Monday, November 21 at 4 a.m. (live on FS2)

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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