Naeher emerges from Solo's shadow with a smashing save

United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saves a penalty shot taken by England's Steph Houghton during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between England and the United States, at the Stade de Lyon, outside Lyon, France, Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher emerged as one of the heroes for the Women’s World Cup champions.

Naehar, and defender Ali Krieger, both graduated from Penn State before embarking on their professional careers.

Penn State coach Erica Dambach said the attributes that once defined the Nittany Lion goalkeeper are still just as easy to spot.

“From a college goalkeeper standpoint, in the big games, you need them to make a save or two to keep you in the game,” Dambach said. “From an Alyssa standpoint, you could always count on her to make that one save, but she’d usually come up with two or three. I would say she not only kept us in a lot of games, but she won a few for us, and that’s rare for a college goalkeeper. You knew she was something really special back then, and there was no doubt in your mind. She had all the tools, but most importantly she had the drive and desire to be the best.”

Naeher’s and Dambach’s worlds came together in 2006 during Dambach’s inaugural year as coach. Naeher, a sophomore at the time, logged personal career bests in minutes (2,176), saves (103) and percentage (.873) that year. Krieger graduated from Penn State in 2006, missing Dambach by just one season.

— Elton Hayes