UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Highlighted by the women’s soccer team’s run to the NCAA College Cup final, the women’s volleyball team advancing to the NCAA semifinals and five Big Ten Championships, the Nittany Lions’ seven fall teams produced an outstanding 2012 campaign.
Penn State captured five fall Big Ten titles for the first time since 2005, with the Nittany Lion field hockey squad leading the way by capturing both the regular-season and tournament crowns. The men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball squads also claimed Big Ten regular-season championships during banner seasons. Since the 2005-06 campaign, Penn State ranks third in the Big Ten with 34 official conference championships.
Penn State, Maryland and North Carolina were the only Division I institutions to have two fall teams advance to their respective NCAA semifinals, with the Nittany Lions’ women’s soccer and women’s volleyball doing so.
The Nittany Lions registered an impressive 89-20-5 (80.2) cumulative overall record and a 43-5-3 (87.3) Big Ten mark in field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball this fall. The women’s cross-country team also made history as it captured its first NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional crown.
Penn State student-athletes excelled on and off the field this fall, as 12 student-athletes earned All-America recognition and 27 received All-Big Ten honors. A school record 100 fall student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, the most of any conference school. In addition, football’s Pete Massaro (Newtown Square, Pa.) and John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) garnered Capital One/College Sports Information Directors of America First Team Academic All-America honors, while men’s soccer’s Julian Cardona (Lincoln, Neb.) received third-team recognition.
The Nittany Lions boasted the Big Ten Coach of the Year – Charlene Morett (field hockey), Russ Rose (women’s volleyball), Erica Walsh (women’s soccer) and Bob Warming (men’s soccer) – for each of their championship-winning teams. In addition, head football coach Bill O’Brien earned conference Coach of the Year accolades from the media and coaches, and director and head coach of track and field/cross-country Beth Alford-Sullivan was named the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic Women’s Cross-Country Coach of the Year.
The Penn State field hockey team ended an impressive fall season with its first Big Ten regular-season championship since 2008 and its second consecutive conference post-season title. The Nittany Lions (18-4, 5-1 Big Ten) advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history and produced the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (Kelsey Amy), the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (Brittany Grzywacz) and four All-Big Ten members. A Sweet Valley, Pa., native, Amy earned National Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team All-American honors, while sophomore Lauren Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) received second-team accolades and Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) was named to the third team. Morett, who earned Coach of the Year honors, secured her 400th victory with a 7-1 win over Indiana Sept. 21.
In his first year at the program’s helm, O’Brien led the football team to an 8-4 record and became the first Penn State first-year head coach to win eight games in the 126 years of the program. O’Brien was selected the ESPN and Maxwell Football Club national Coach of the Year, in addition to his conference honors. Senior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) was a first-team All-American and earned the conference’s linebacker of the year honors, sophomore Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) was tabbed the league’s best receiver and defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia, Pa.) was honored as the Big Ten’s top freshman. Record-setting signal-caller Matt McGloin (Scranton, Pa.) re-wrote the Penn State records book and captured the Burlsworth Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best player who started his career as a walk-on. Seven Nittany Lions earned All-Big Ten honors. Barnes and tight end Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) earned a quartet of first-team Freshman All-America honors.
The women’s soccer squad (21-4-2, 10-0-1 Big Ten) posted its best season in program history, winning its 15th straight Big Ten Championship and advancing to the NCAA College Cup title game for the first time in program history. Senior midfielder Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) is a finalist for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best player. Joining Nairn as an National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) of America First Team All-American was junior forward Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.).
Head Coach Erica Walsh racked up Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second time in her career. Joining Nairn and Walsh in the Big Ten major award categories was Hayes (Forward of the Year), Defender of the Year sophomore Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) and Freshman of the Year Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica). Additionally, the women’s soccer program had a total of five players named to NSCAA Great Lakes All-Region teams. Hayes, Nairn and Church were named first teamers, while goalkeeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) was named to the second team and Rodriguez was a third-team selection.
Under the direction of the first-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Bob Warming, the men’s soccer team (9-5-3, 3-1-2 Big Ten) captured a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship and led the league with six All-Big Ten selections. Seniors Jacob Barron (La Mirada, Calif.) and John Gallagher (Pine Bush, N.Y.) landed on the first team while classmates Cardona and Hasani Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla.), along with sophomores Owen Griffith (Lewisburg, Pa.) and Andrew Wolverton (Snellville, Ga.), left a Blue and White mark on the second-team list. In addition, Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.) earned All-Freshman team honors.
The women’s volleyball team had another outstanding season, finishing with an overall record of 33-3 and a 19-1 record in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA national semifinals for the 10th time in program history and earned their 15th Big Ten title since joining the league for the 1991 season. The squad boasted 10 Big Ten postseason awards, including junior Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.), Freshman of the Year Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), Setter of the Year Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) and Rose, the Coach of the Year.
In addition, Scott, juniors Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) and Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) and Hancock were named All-Big Ten, and Courtney was named to the All-Freshman Team. Courtney went on to earn Honorable Mention American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Mideast Region laurels and was the AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year. Coach Rose was selected as Mideast Region Coach of the Year and saw four Nittany Lions tabbed All-Americans. Scott and Hancock were named AVCA First Team All-Americans, Slay earned a spot on the Second Team and McClendon was an AVCA Third Team All-American.
Led by Coach Sullivan, the women’s cross-country team captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional en route to an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, earning their fourth consecutive NCAA berth. Five Nittany Lions – led by junior Victoria Perri’s (Philadelphia) fourth-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional – received All-Region honors as the team won the meet for the first time in program history. The Penn State contingent, which also finished third at the Big Ten Championships, finished 14th at the NCAA Championships.
The men’s cross-country team finished sixth at the Big Ten meet and fifth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, with Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.) qualifying for the NCAA Championships.