Alyssa Naeher’s collegiate career had hit bottom, and it hadn’t really even started. How she would respond speaks volumes.
It was Aug. 25, 2006, and the shy Penn State freshman from Stratford, Conn., was in goal in front of a record crowd of 3,208 fans at Jeffrey Field in Happy Valley, Pa. They’d come to see No. 2 Penn State play the No. 1-ranked program in the country, UCLA.
Naeher, who had just returned from a right shoulder injury that had kept her out of most of training camp, had been cleared to play only days before the highly anticipated 1-vs.-2 matchup. To make matters even more daunting, she had no idea she was going to start the game until that very day.
“And she’d just had her wisdom teeth out,” says Alyssa’s father, John Naeher, laughing. “The number of things that were stacked (against her), it was nuts.”