Penn Staters taking the pitch across the world

Story posted July 21, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Allie Wenskoski

With the 2023 Women’s World Cup in the group stage this week, the action is just beginning to stir up in Australia and New Zealand.

The world’s eyes are on the international stage, with Team USA and Team England being the favorites to win. Team USA may be sending a 23-player roster, but Penn State is sending five of its own on five different teams.

Rocky Rodriguez – Team Costa Rica

Rodriguez was a four-year starter for the Nittany Lions for the 2012-15 seasons. She led the team to the College Cup Championship, where the 2015 club defeated Duke 1-0, with Rodriguez scoring the go-ahead goal. Among her many achievements, Rodriguez won the Honda Sports Award, which highlights the best collegiate athlete in twelve sports.

After Penn State, Rodriguez was selected second overall by the Sky Blue FC. She was named the NWSL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and would go on to play for the Perth Glory and Portland Thorns FC.

Her first Women’s World Cup was in 2015, and she scored Costa Rica’s first-ever Women’s World Cup goal.

Laura Freigang – Team Germany

Born in Oppenheim, Germany, Freigang traveled across the Atlantic to play two seasons with Penn State.

In her freshman year, she earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team but ended up missing the NCAA Tournament to play for Germany in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

As a sophomore, Freigang scored nine goals with one assist and led the teams in points, goals, shots, and shots on goal. She went on to play as a forward for Eintracht Frankfurt and the Germany Women’s National Football Team.

Alyssa Naeher – Team USA

Now a goalkeeper for the Chicago Red Stars and the United States Women’s National Team, Naeher played as a Nittany Lion from 2006-2009. She finished her collegiate career with a record of 50-19-5 with 24 shutouts.

She is a two-time Olympian and is the NWSL’s all-time leader in saves and appearances by a goalkeeper. The 2023 Women’s World Cup will be her third World Cup appearance.

In the 2019 tournament, Naeher was the only U.S. player to play every minute of each match and became the fifth goalkeeper in history to earn a shutout in a Women’s World Cup Final.

Marissa Sheva – Team Ireland

Sheva repped the blue and white from 2015-2018 and was on the championship squad with Rodriguez in 2015. She was a multi-sport athlete and did not join the 2019 NWSL College Draft because of her involvement on the Penn State track team.

She plays for the Washington Spirit after joining the team in 2022, and her first match for the Ireland National Team occurred earlier this year. This will be Sheva’s Women’s World Cup debut.

Olivia Smith – Team Canada

Smith only played for Penn State for the 2022 season before choosing to forgo her eligibility to sign a professional contract. Although she hasn’t yet revealed what club she has signed with, it is with a professional team in Europe.

In 2019 Smith became the youngest player to debut for the Canadian Women’s National Team and is currently the youngest member of the Canadian team for the World Cup.

Allie Wenskoski is a rising sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, please email