UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 4 Penn State women's soccer team will begin its quest for a second consecutive NCAA College Cup appearance this weekend as the Nittany Lions open regular season play at Jeffrey Field in the Penn State Invitational. Penn State will host non-conference rival West Virginia on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before matching up against Hofstra on Sunday at noon.
Fans in attendance on Friday will receive a free Penn State women's soccer rally towel, while supplies last.
Penn State welcomes West Virginia, Hofstra and Syracuse. Friday's events are slated to begin at 5 p.m. with a contest between Syracuse and Hofstra. Penn State and Hofstra will kick off Sunday's schedule in a noon match-up, followed by a meeting between Syracuse and WVU at 2:30 p.m. Admission and parking for all Penn State soccer games is free. Fans are reminded that there is a no bag policy in place on stadium grounds.
The Nittany Lions return 8-of-11 starters from last season's national runner-up squad, including two-time NSCAA first team All-American Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.), Big Ten Defender of the Year Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.), Big Ten Freshman of the Year Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica), Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.), Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.), Bri Hovington (Lothian, Md.), Kori Chapic (Novelty, Ohio) and Mallory Weber (Novi, Mich.).
Senior Tani Costa (Honolulu, Hawaii) and sophomore Mallory Peterson (Clinton Corner, N.Y.) join Hayes, Rodriguez, Hurd, Schram and Weber as returning members of the Nittany Lion offensive attack that tallied 48 goals and 36 assists (132 points) in 2012.
West Virginia returns nine starters from last season's Big 12 Champion squad, including 88 percent of its goal scoring. The Mountaineers are led by first team All-Big 12 selection Kate Schwindel, second team honoree Frances Silva and Big 12 All-Newcomer team selections Leah Eamus, Kara Blosser and Kelsie Maloney. Senior goalkeeper Sara Keane also returns for WVU, having posting 17 shutouts in the past two seasons.
Penn State and West Virginia are tied at 5-5-0 all-time with the Nittany Lions earning wins in the last three matchups between the two teams. Last year, PSU used goals from Costa and former Lion Christine Nairn to edge the Mountaineers in a 2-1 overtime battle.
Hofstra returns 10 of 11 starters from a team that captured the Colonial Athletic Association title, including all of its top-10 scorers. The Pride's offense is led by 2012 CAA Rookie of the Year Leah Galton, All-CAA first team selection Jill Mulholland and juniors Lulu Echeverry and Sam Scolarici. Senior Emily Morphitis returns in goal for Hofstra after receiving Most Outstanding Player honors for her efforts in the CAA Championship.
Penn State leads Hofstra 2-0-0 all-time in a series that dates back to 2007. The teams last met in 2008 in a match that ended in a 4-1 decision.
Fans can follow all of the action of the Penn State Invitational via Twitter updates.
The Nittany Lions will travel to No. 8 Virginia next Friday at 7:00 p.m. for their first road match of the 2013 campaign.