Nittany Lions take top offense into final four

[WOMEN'S COLLEGE CUP: Penn State] Penn State makes its fourth appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament semifinals Friday when it faces Florida State in San Diego (TV:  ESPN3, 8:30 pm). But Coach Erica Walsh and goalie Erin McNulty know all about the Seminoles. Walsh was an FSU assistant when it went to the 2005 Women's College Cup, the last time Penn State advanced to the final four. And McNulty started for the Seminoles on their 2009 College Cup runner-up team.

THREE STARS:
Senior midfielder Christine Nairn scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the 1-0 win over Penn State in the quarterfinals. The only active collegian who has been capped for the United States, Nairn leads the nation's top offense with 16 goals and 11 assists.

Junior Maya Hayes has tallied 15 goal and six assists for the 2012 campaign after playing a pivotal role in helping the USA win the Under-20 Women's World Cup in September. She led the nation with 31 goals in 2011.

Costa Rican international Raquel Rodriguez, who earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, committed to Penn State sight unseen but didn't know she'd been cleared by the NCAA until 48 hours before her scheduled departure. Walsh says the Tica's resume is "unlike that of any other player in the college game."

TACTICS:
After Nairn's early goal against Duke, Walsh switched to four in the back with freshman Corey Persson, a converted forward, being brought on.

NUMBERS GAME:
The Nittany Lions have won 15 straight Big Ten regular-season titles.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"We’re prepared, we’ve done a ton of video and we’ve learned more about ourselves in this past tournament than we have all season." -- Nairn.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
Goalkeeper
00 Erin McNulty GS Canada
Defenders
14 Kori Chapic SO Novelty, Ohio
17 Whitney Church SO Ashburn, Va.
23 Bri Hovington JR Lothian, Md.
Midfielders
3 Emily Hurd SO  Sammamish, Wash.
10 Christine Nairn SR Arnold, Md.
11 Raquel Rodriguez FR Costa Rica
18 Maddy Evans  SR Glenside, Pa.
19 Taylor Schram JR Canonsburg, Pa.
Forwards
5 Maya Hayes JR West Orange, N.J.
16 Mallory Weber  FR Novi, Mich.
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