TOKYO (WTAJ) — Penn State women’s soccer coach Erica Dambach will be on the pitch this year as the Women’s National Team tries to become the first women’s team to follow up a World Cup gold with another gold in the Olympics.
“This team doesn’t need more motivation to win and push, but it does provide a different angle, and you can tell it fuels their fire to do something no team has ever done,” said Dambach. “They love a good challenge,” she continued.
This stint is the second for Dambach with the USWNST who was also an assistant on the 2008 team that went to Beijing. Dambach is the only coach on this team’s staff who has Olympic experience, something she says her coaching staff leans on.
“I’m the only member of this coaching staff that’s been involved in an Olympic game. “Coach (Vlatko) Andonovski will ask me ‘hey when this happened in Beijing what was the response, what are some things I should be considering in this moment?’ That’s a unique role I can play in this staff right now,” she said.
While Dambach may have Olympic experience, it’s her fellow coach’s collective brilliance that excites her as she hopes to come back from Japan a better coach.
“This coaching staff is just full of talent and great minds and to sit in that room and have this think tank hour after hour and day after day. I can’t take in enough right now.” She said.
“And obviously so much of it I will be able to take back to Penn State and translate into the Big Ten opponents and out-of-conference opponents on our quest to win the next national championship,” she continued.
Dambach and Alyssa Naeher represent Penn State on this year’s team. Ali Krieger, a former Penn State player who was with Team USA at the World Cup in 2019, is not part of this year’s Olympic squad.
“This, as you said, is the pinnacle in a coaching career and opportunity to represent your country in the world game, the Olympic games. It’s so sentimental. It’s a little bit surreal at times and I’m just trying to soak in every minute of this journey,” Dambach said.
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