Five women’s soccer players earn All-Region honors

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A total of five players from the NCAA Finalist Penn State Women’s Soccer team (21-4-2) have been named to NSCAA Great Lakes All-Region teams. Junior Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.), senior Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) and sophomore Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) were named first teamers. Goalkeeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) was named to the second team while freshman Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) was a third team selection.

Hayes, who earned her second-straight Big Ten Forward of the Year honor, is also a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. The junior was a big offensive addition to the Nittany Lion lineup once she returned from the U-20 World Cup where she scored four goals in helping USA to a gold medal. Joining Hayes on the MAC Hermann semifinalist is Nairn, who also earned her first ever Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and first team NSCAA All-American honor. Nairn finished her career second on the all-time assists list in program history and doubled her career goal total this season. The senior scored the emotional golden goal against Florida State in the national semifinals.

Church earns her first ever NSCAA All-Region honor after also earning her first All-Big Ten recognition as she picked up Defender of the Year honors. The sophomore had big shoes to fill when senior defenders Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) and Jackie Molinda (Pittsburgh, Pa.) went down early in the season to ACL injuries. Acting as the center back, Church did a stellar job anchoring a Nittany Lion defense that has posted nine shutouts this season, including two in the NCAA Tournament against LIU Brooklyn and Duke.

McNulty played a huge role in leading the Nittany Lions to the College Cup title game in San Diego, Calif. In the Sweet Sixteen against Michigan and down 2-0 in PKs, the graduate keeper made three-straight saves and Penn State converted on its next three kicks to stun the Wolverines and advance. McNulty followed with a shutout against Duke and a remarkable performance against her former squad, Florida State, in the national semifinals.

A unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year selection, Rodriguez finished tied for fifth in the conference in assists. Taking the majority of the Nittany Lion corner kicks this season, Rodriguez’s seven assists in Big Ten play led the conference. Winners of 15-straight Big Ten titles, Penn State posted its second-straight 20-win season and advanced to the College Cup Ttile for the first time in program history. The Nittany Lions appearance in the championship game was just the second appearance by a Big Ten school in the national championship. Wisconsin reached it in 1991.

For complete coverage of Penn State women’s soccer, please visit http://www.GoPSUsports.com/sports/w-soccer.

Follow Penn State women’s soccer on Twitter: @PennStateWSOC.

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