Nittany Lions Win First National Championship

Nittany Lions Win First National Championship

The Penn State women’s soccer team defeated Duke University 1-0 on Sunday in North Carolina, capturing their first National Championship. Senior Rocky Rodriguez was the difference for the Lions, scoring the only goal of the match, while senior goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom earned the shutout on defense.

After defeating Rutgers 2 - 0 in the Semifinals with goals by Frannie Crouse and Kaleigh Riehl, Penn State headed into their final match of the season with great confidence, scoring 19 goals in the NCAA tournament with 0 goals against.

In the first half of the championship match, Penn State recorded four shot attempts while goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom made one save against the Blue Devils. Duke appeared to control the first half of the game outshooting Penn State 6 - 4, but the Nittany Lions lead 3 - 1 with shots on goal. Ultimately, both teams remained scoreless going into the half.

Ten minutes into the second half, Penn State scored the lone goal of the game, making history for the Nittany Lions. Mallory Weber crossed the ball into the box to Rodriguez and she beat two defenders then sent the ball past Duke’s goalkeeper to make it a 1-0 game.

Duke attempted to rally in the final minutes of the game recording three shots on goal, but goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom maintained the shutout for the Lions.

Head Coach Erica Walsh complemented Duke on their great performance during the match: "When you get to a National Championship game obviously you never expect it to be easy, but I thought that Duke gave us absolutely everything we could handle today…..They came out in the first 20 minutes with the crowd behind them. They put us on our back foot and we had to struggle through that time and could not quite find our rhythm. Once we got past that time I really felt like we got back on top of the game. That is an extremely good Duke team that we were able to beat today. Congratulations to Robbie Church and his program. He runs a tremendous program."

Penn State finished the season 22-3-2 and outscored opponents 20-0 during the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Lions also earned 15 shutouts this season, which ranks second all time for the women’s soccer program.