[SOCCER AMERICA AWARDS] Erica Walsh, who led Penn State to a 15th straight Big Ten regular-season championship and its
first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament final, is Soccer America's 2012 Women's Coach of the Year.
The Nittany Lions survived a brutal non-conference schedule that included two No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds (Stanford and BYU) and one No. 2 seed (Virginia) early in the season and overcame many obstacles along the way -- junior forwards Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram were away at the U-20 Women's World Cup and senior defenders Jackie Molinda and Lexi Marton were lost for the season with injuries -- to finish with a 21-4-2 record. Their appearance in the national championship game was just the second by a Big Ten school after Wisconsin in 1991.
The Nittany Lions swept almost every Big Ten award: Walsh (Big Ten Coach of the Year), Hayes (Forward of the Year), Christine Nairn (Midfielder of the Year), Whitney Church (Defender of the Year), and Costa Rican Raquel Rodriguez (Rookie of the Year).
Walsh has coached at Penn State for six years following stints at six different universities, including three as head coach. She also served as head coach of the U.S. U-17 national team from December 2004 until her hire at Penn State in February 2007 and worked with Pia Sundhage on the women's national team in recent years.
SOCCER AMERICA WOMEN'S COACHES OF THE YEAR
2001 -- Jerry Smith (Santa Clara)
2002 -- Stephanie Erickson, Paul Sapsford (Stanford)
2003 -- Patrick Baker (Florida State)
2004 -- Dan Tobias (Arizona)
2005 -- Mark Krikorian (Florida State)
2006 -- Anson Dorrance (North Carolina)
2007 -- Ali Khosroshahin (USC)
2008 -- Paul Ratcliffe (Stanford)
2009 -- Randy Waldrum (Notre Dame)
2010 -- Brian Pensky (Maryland)
2011 -- Robbie Church (Duke)
2012 -- Erica Walsh (Penn State)