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High-Level Reserves Breeding Competition, Hunger Within Penn State Women’s Soccer

Following an 8-0 record-setting thrashing of the West Chester Golden Rams last weekend, there’s a solid buzz within the Penn State women’s soccer camp right now. The Nittany Lions set two program records Sunday by racking up 45 shots in a single match and taking 20 corner kicks. It’s impressive, but especially so given that Penn State rotated nearly its entire side by the 30th minute.

Twenty-five of its 30 rostered players touched the field, a feat that Erica Dambach is proud of. She specifically highlighted the months of offseason grit paying dividends in Sunday’s victory.

“They’ve been working hard all summer and throughout preseason, so to give them an opportunity to enjoy time on Jeffrey Field, it’s a dream come true, right? They’ve been working their whole life to have that moment and we wanted to give them that opportunity,” Dambach said.

In the mix of 14 bench players who saw the field is Quinnipiac transfer Rebecca Cooke. Last season, the Dublin, Ireland, native led the nation with 22 goals and has registered two appearances off the bench for the Nittany Lions so far this season. One of those appearances included a goal in the 62nd minute on Sunday to lift the Nittany Lions to a five-goal advantage.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore Julia Raich subbed in the 30th minute and completed a brace, along with tallying an assist.

Dambach is certainly aware of her reserves’ strengths and wants to get them more involved. However, as conference play nears and competition gets fiercer, a sturdy depth chart ensures high-level practice sessions and hunger for playing time.

“There’s some good healthy competition in the group right now,” Dambach said.

Granted, the starting lineup is already stacked, but she seems to know her players trust the system. Dambach highlighted the strength and importance of her team’s depth and system.

“When you’re developing in a program of this caliber, you have to understand you’re behind some big players that have played a lot of minutes for us, and so just to be patient with yourself and when you get the opportunity to be ready,” Dambach said.

It’s not just Dambach who echoes a hopeful sentiment. Kate Wiesner welcomed the competition and was proud to support her team from the sideline Sunday. After ending her day with two assists, she joined her teammates in the dugout to cheer the rest of the team on.

“It doesn’t matter who’s on the bench. You know, we just want to bring that same energy. If you’re on the field, then you’re giving your best on the field, and if you’re on the bench, you’re giving your best to the players on the field,” Wiesner said.

With a trip to West Virginia up next, Dambach kept the same mentality, treating things business as usual, while continuing to stress that there is still competition within the depth chart.

“It’s so early in the season, they know that there’s a lot of competition for for positions, and that keeps them focused,” Dambach said.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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