Sunday marked Penn State's first national championship in women's soccer and was also the Big Ten's first title in sport. The Nittany Lions tore through the NCAA Tournament in dominating fashion, outscoring opponents 20-0 through seven games. What may be more exciting for Penn State fans is that 17 of those 20 goals came from underclassmen.
However, the squad hadn't given up a single goal since Nov. 1, closing out the year with a 23-0 goal differential. Two of the squad's three regular-season losses were to teams they defeated tournament play, Rutgers and West Virginia.
With back-to-back No. 2 ranked recruiting classes by Top Drawer Soccer over the past two years, it'll be intersting to see what PSU's women's soccer program does from this highwater mark.
While the Lions have been a perennial dominant force in the Big Ten play, winning 17 conference titles over the past 18 years, this year's title victory served as marquee milestone for a program that has long been focused on making a statement on the national stage.
This national title is also the most recent in a long continuous line of success Penn State has had across its athletic program. In fact, Penn State has won at least one national title every year since 2007 across women's and men's volleyball, wrestling, men's gymnastics, men's and women's fencing, and now, women's soccer.
Since 2007 Penn State actually has the most NCAA national championships in the nation, tied with Southen California, each with 17. Stanford and Texas, often considered among the nation's premier atheltic programs, have 14 and four national titles, respectively, over this same timeframe.
Carrying the Conference Torch
Not surprisingly, Penn State is the dominant force in the Big Ten when it comes to national championships. Penn State's 17 since 2007 is at least double the total won by any other conference program over the past nine years.
Since the Nittany Lions joined Big Ten play in 1992-93, PSU has 29 total NCAA championships, which is also more than double any other Big Ten school in that span that has competed in the conference at least three years. Nebraska and Ohio State are tied for second with 12 titles each. In fact, Penn State has more total national titles since joining the Big Ten than Ohio State has in its history as a program.
A Series of Success
Here's a review of Penn State's National Titles since 2007:
2007 - men's gymnastics, women's volleyball, men's/women's fencing
2008 - men's volleyball, women's volleyball
2009 - men's/women's fencing, women's volleyball
2010 - men's/women's fencing, women's volleyball
2011 - wrestling
2012 - wrestling
2013 - women's volleyball, wrestling
2014 - men's/women's fencing, women's volleyball
2015 - women's soccer
While the college atheltics world is often myopic in its view of sports through the lens of football and basketball, the widespread and perpetual success of Penn State athletics is impressive. It's no small feat to have a single sport have some semblance of continued success in today's athletics environment, but to do so across an array of sports is particularly rare and should not go unappreciated.