Women’s Soccer is Back in the Final Four
The top-seeded Nittany Lions knocked off Duke Friday night at cold, blustery Jeffrey Field, going up early on Christine Nairn’s 14th-minute penalty kick and holding on for the 1-0 win. Penn State will face Florida State next Friday in San Diego in the national semifinals.
It was fitting that Nairn (above) scored the game’s only goal. The senior midfielder might be the best in the nation at controlling tempo and possession for her team—for a knowledgable soccer fan, she’s a joy to watch—but she’s the rare midfielder who also leads a great team in scoring; Friday’s goal was her 16th of the season. ESPN earlier this week ran a nice feature that gives a sense of just how good Nairn is, and how much she’s matured under Penn State coach Erica Walsh.
The win gives Penn State its first College Cup berth since 2005, and the fourth in program history. The Lions have never won the national title, but with Walsh (an assistant coach on the U.S. Women’s national team), Nairn, and last year’s national scoring leader Maya Hayes leading a tough and talented squad, this year’s team has a real shot. Hopefully the lack of cold and wind out in San Diego won’t throw them off.
Ryan Jones, senior editor