CORRECTION: This article previously named player Laura Suero incorrectly and contained a misspelling of Caitlin Haislip's name. It also incorrectly stated that Kim Dubs, who is no longer on the team, was still an active player who could potentially fill a new role for the team in the fall. The Daily Collegian apologizes for these errors.
Since coach Erica Dambach took over in 2007, Penn State has never missed out on the NCAA tournament. In 2018, the team advanced to the quarterfinals, suffering a 1-0 defeat against Florida State and missing out on the College Cup.
A 13-5 regular season record with a 9-2 clip against Big Ten teams saw the team reclaim the Big Ten regular season title. The Nittany Lions also made it to the final of the Big Ten tournament, but ultimately lost to Minnesota in a penalty shootout.
Penn State will have a tough schedule this season, facing off against teams like Stanford and having rematches against West Virginia and Virginia, on top of an inherently tricky Big Ten schedule.
From a personnel standpoint, the Nittany Lions do need to find a way to replace their losses. Dambach will be without five starting seniors from the past season. Center back Maddie Nolf and midfield maestro Emily Ogle both went on to the NWSL, while Charlotte Williams, Alina Ortega Jurado and Marissa Sheva all graduated.
The team also welcomed the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation per TopDrawerSoccer.com with coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Wassell continuing a great recruiting track record. The newcomers include Angela Aguero, Jordan Canniff, Shelby Craft, Julia Dohle, Cori Dyke, Payton Linnehan, Devon Olive, Leah Scarpelli and Kate Wiesner.
Penn State will look to lean on a strong backline that gave up .513 goals per game last year, good for eighth in Division I. Senior Laura Suero will be capable of filling in for Ortega Jurado on the left, while sophomore Caitlin Haislip looked solid at center back in a successful spring season. Co-captains Ellie Jean and Kaleigh Riehl will likely resume their positions on the right and center in the back with another co-captain Amanda Dennis in goal.
Shea Moyer remained in the original midfield three, but the Nittany Lions have an incoming trump card in Sam Coffey.
Coffey transferred from Boston College in the spring as an All-American and a regular fixture for the junior USWNT teams. She is the most comfortable in the attacking midfield spot, but also showed her prowess in patrolling the midfield. She also boasts a high level of ambidexterity, being able to create and take set pieces with both feet.
Kelli Beiler looks like the final candidate to round out the midfield. Up front, Kerry Abello and Frankie Tagliaferri will look to break on the counter, while the likes of Kristin Schnurr will look to fill Sheva’s role out wide.
Expectations are certainly high for Penn State. The Missouri Athletic Club recently released its Hermann Trophy watchlist for the top players in college soccer and Tagliaferri, Coffey and Riehl were on the list. Coffey and Riehl, both All-Americans the past season, made it to the final 15 of the list in 2018.