[PENN STATE: SA Preseason #2] Penn State reached the Women's College Cup final for the first time in 2012 with one of the most feared attacks in the country. Christine Nairn, who led the Nittany Lions with 17 goals and 12 assists, is gone but just about everyone else is back, making Coach Erica Walsh's squad the second-ranked team in the Soccer America Preseason Top 25.
Walsh returns eight starters, including Maya Hayes, who led the nation in goals (31) and points (70) in 2011 and had 16 goals and six assists last season after returning from the Under-20 World Cup, where she scored four goals.
Hayes won her second straight Big Ten Forward of the Year award, Whitney Church was Big Ten Defender of the Year Whitney Church and Costa Rican Raquel Rodriguez was Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Church anchored the backline from her center-back position, filling in when senior defenders Lexi Marton and Jackie Molinda went down early in the season with ACL injuries.
Rodriguez should take over some of the playmaking duties from Nairn. Her seven assists in Big Ten play led the conference in 2012.
Also are back are Bri Hovington, Taylor Schram, Emily Hurd, Kori Chapic and Mallory Weber.
On the backline, Marton returns after red-shirting in 2012 and transfer Emily Carrollo arrives from Virginia, where she played 62 games in three seasons.
Penn State, picked to win its 16th straight Big Ten title, open their 2013 scheduleat home Friday against No. 19 West Virginia.