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Penn State Women's Soccer Wins First National Title in Program History With a 1-0 Win Over Duke

Erica Walsh's Nittany Lions were dominant over the course of six matches.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


That was the aggregate score of Penn State women's soccer six NCAA Tournament matches. The Nittany Lion attack was as potent as its back line was strong, and when the tournament's final whistle blew, Erica Walsh's squad walked off the pitch in Cary, NC with a 1-0 win over Duke and the first national title in program history.

Six matches, no goals. Behind a midfield that possessed the ball with ease, a back line that would never, ever break, and a brilliant postseason by redshirt senior goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom, scoring a goal on the Nittany Lions was an impossible task. Sure, Penn State was frequently tested – there was a moment early on against Duke when, with a shot that was slightly more on-target, Eckerstrom would have been beaten – but all that matters was that it never broke.

Six matches, 20 goals. Penn State's attack played a beautiful style of soccer, as its relentless attack overwhelmed two of the best defenses in America in the College Cup. We'll all remember the goal by star midfielder/forward Raquel Rodriguez, who carried Penn State to its first title just like she carried Costa Rica's women's team to its first appearance in the 2015 Women's World Cup where, of course, she scored another historic goal. But Rodriguez was only one of several members of the potent Penn State attack. The group was led by four goals from Emily Ogle. Frannie Crouse and Megan Schafer both pitched in three. Rodriguez, Charlotte Williams, and Haleigh Echard all had two, while Kaleigh Riehl, Nickolette Driesse, Elizabeth Ball, and Brittany Basinger all tallied one. Penn State's attack was so balanced that no defense had a chance against the Nittany Lions, as the goalscoring came from all over the pitch.

So now we celebrate. We celebrate where this team has been, where it is now, and where it is going – of its 11 starters in this match, three are graduating, while seven are either freshmen, sophomores, or redshirt sophomores. This team is talented, it is well-coached by one of the best people in the sport, it's young, and most importantly, it's going to spend all of 2016 with the title of "defending national champions."

Six matches, one championship. Here's to hoping that we get to do this all again next year.

We are.