Sophomore forward Frankie Tagliaferri is enjoying a breakout season for Penn State women’s soccer.
The Colts Neck, New Jersey, native was recently named to the All-Big Ten first team alongside fellow Nittany Lions Emily Ogle and Kaleigh Riehl. Tagliaferri is now tied for the team lead with seven goals.
“Frankie is a great person and a great player,” Ogle said. “On the field, she can make magical things happen. She can take people on and shoot from distance. She’s a good finisher. She’s been huge for us and come up big in big moments.”
Tagliaferri said she grew up admiring Mia Hamm and even had a cutout of the U.S. women’s national team star in her room. Tagliaferri, who played for the prestigious Players Development Academy during her club days, has also been a fixture on the U.S. youth teams.
Tagliaferri was ranked as the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, according to TopDrawerSoccer. She participated in a U-19 national team training camp in San Diego this May with Penn State teammates Amanda Dennis and Shea Moyer.
Head coach Erica Dambach highlighted this year’s sophomore class as taking the biggest leap from a development standpoint over the summer.
“The sky’s the limit for Frankie,” Dambach said. “Her confidence keeps growing. Her smile keeps getting bigger. I’m really proud of the strides she’s made this season.”
Sophomore winger Kerry Abello, who’s tied with Tagliaferri and Kristin Schnurr for the team lead in goals, said Tagliaferri’s creativity on the pitch makes her job easier.
“She has a ton of different plays going on in her head all the time and she makes a lot of decisions for me, which is really nice,” Abello said. “When I have the ball, she’s making a hard run and screaming for it.
“A lot of what you do is decided for you by the players around you, and I think Frankie’s really good at that.”
Tagliaferri has notched three two-goal performances so far during her collegiate career — first accomplishing the feat in a 7-0 win over Stony Brook in last year’s NCAA tournament opener. She did it again against Duquesne and Illinois this season.
Tagliaferri scored both of Penn State’s goals in its 2-1 overtime victory over the Illini on September 22 in Champaign. A few days later at practice, co-captain Maddie Nolf discussed Tagliaferri’s golden goal.
“I was super proud of her and happy for her,” Nolf said. “When you do your job on the field, it feels really good and you want to be recognized for it. I was happy that she got the reward. It’s always exciting to see your friend and teammate get a goal like that.”
Tagliaferri, who also has five assists this season, has started all but one of Penn State’s first 19 matches heading into Friday’s Big Ten semifinals versus Illinois. She leads the Nittany Lions with 31 shots on goal — something that can likely be traced back to her commitment to excellence and accuracy in practice.
“Our team works so hard and we care so much and we’re so competitive that every day we’re out there 30 minutes before training doing extra shooting,” she said.
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