This is the first in a series of daily articles previewing each men's and women's college conference.
Penn State has been a constant in Big 10 Women’s Soccer, and they look to be prominent in this year’s title reckoning as well.
The Nittany Lions will have to overcome the loss of offensive standout Katie Schoepfer and all-everything goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Returning is TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of the Year Christine Nairn along with speedy forward Danielle Toney.
Speed is something head coach Erica Walsh is bringing in in droves this fall. Standout forwards Maya Hayes and Hayley Brock will debut, along with outside back Briana Hovington, as the squad looks to claim its 13th conference championship.
Indiana will also feel a bit left out when it comes to last year’s NCAA Tourney field. Mick Lyon’s squad went 8-2-1 at home but struggled on the road and in conference play. Lisa Nouanesengsy leads a talented freshmen class, while Lindsay Campbell brings an impressive 0.57 GAA back to the IU net. Devon Beach and Carly Samp also return.
In East Lansing, Laura Heyboer returns to bear the brunt of the offensive load. A very talented sophomore class including Olivia Stander, Chelsea Patterson, Kelsey Kassab and Jordan Mueller, should bolster the prospects for Tom Saxton’s Michigan State Spartans.
Stephanie Erickson’s Northwestern Wildcats need to score more goals. Natalie Lagunas is one recruit who will be looked to for help. Top returning players include Sam Greene, Brianna Westlund, Jill Dunn and Jennifer Baumann.
At Michigan, Greg Ryan’s revolution endured some tough sledding in his first two years, but now he should start to see the fruits of some of his recruiting efforts. Kayla Mannino, Shelby Chambers-Garcia, Meghan Toohey and Tori McCombs headline a 9-player recruiting class, en route to join returning starters Holly Hein, Jackie Carron, Courtney Mercier and Clare Stachel, who is returning from an injury that kept her out for all of last season.
Tomorrow: America East & Northeast Women