Hayes, Naim, Weber lead Penn State to national title match
SAN DIEGO – They made up a majority of Penn State’s offense throughout the year so it wasn’t a surprise that they led the Nittany Lion offense in the semifinal game of the College Cup on Friday night.
Penn State will be making its first appearance in the finals and have the trio of Maya Hayes, Christina Nairn and Mallory Weber to thank for not only this victory but the 20 others this season.
The trio has accounted for 44 of the 73 goals the team has scored this year.
Hayes, who had 15 goals during the year, got her 16th in the second half against Florida State despite not being the focus of the offense.
“I felt like Maya’s determination and her ability to stay composed despite her lack of touches, I think that’s a sign of a great player because many great players get frustrated if they’re not touching the ball,” said head coach Erica Walsh. “Maya’s discipline was outstanding [Friday night]. She kept her head high, she knew she was going to get an opportunity it was only a matter of time and when she does she finishes and that’s Maya Hayes.”
Hayes is no stranger to offense. Though she was the second-leading scorer, Hayes carried the offense the year before, scoring 31 goals in 2011.
This year she hasn’t had to shoulder the offense this year. She missed the first five games playing on the U-20 national team and then was brought along slowly by Walsh.
“I think it’s definitely different from last season,” Hayes said. “I think it is a good thing to have this variety. For us to have that variety is a blessing. The pressures not on one person all the time and it gives us the comfort to have different people to go to and lean on.”
Nairn and Weber enthusiastically picked up the slack. Nairn had 16 goals and Weber had 13. Nairn’s 17th goal of the year came in the overtime period to eliminate FSU, something Walsh expected from her senior.
“Christine steps up and leads the charge,” Walsh said. “When we went into overtime the staff got together and looked over and Christine’s there right in the middle of the group looking them in the eyes giving them the poise, the composure, and all the confidence in the world to go into the overtime period and win the game.”