GCC grad Crouse makes quick impact for Penn State women’s soccer
The transition to Division I soccer isn’t supposed to look this easy.
But Penn State’s Frannie Crouse isn’t an ordinary freshman.
Crouse, a Greensburg Central Catholic graduate who scored a state record 208 goals in high school, quickly has acclimated herself to the college game. Her seven goals lead the No. 6 Nittany Lions (12-1) and are tied for sixth in the Big Ten. Crouse also became the first player in program history to receive back-to-back Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
“She’s established herself among the best in the country,” Penn State coach Erica Walsh said. “She has the true mentality of a goal scorer. If she misses, she’s going to work hard to get the ball back. She’s going to go at it again. We’ve thrown a lot at her in a short period of time, and she’s learning quickly.”
Despite a decorated high school career that also included two PIAA Class A titles, Crouse said she is surprised by her early success.
“I wasn’t expecting to come in and make an impact on the team because they’re so good,” Crouse said. “I’m honestly very privileged to be getting as much playing time as I’m getting. It’s really indescribable so far.”
Being a Penn State player carries other responsibilities, too. There are the fun things such as postgame autograph and photo sessions with young fans. There also are challenging aspects like keeping up with classes despite missing chunks of time while on road trips.
Crouse, a communications major who hopes to get into advertising, said she’s finally settling into a routine with her classwork. Soccer seemingly has been the easier part, and she made an impression on teammates immediately.
“We did fitness testing on the first day, and she ran the fastest 40 time I’ve seen in my whole entire life,” senior captain Emily Hurd said. “I was like, ‘OK, she’s pretty athletic.’ ”
Crouse didn’t waste any time once the regular season began, scoring in the opener against then-No. 12 West Virginia. She has been a consistent force since, starting every game and leading the team with 30 shots.
“She just has variety in her play,” Walsh said. “She’s able to play with her back to goal. She’s able to get in behind a defense. She has shown that she’s able to be opportunistic. She’s shown that she’s able to play out on the flank.
“We knew that she was a great athlete, but we’ve seen in these first few weeks that she also has a good brain for the game.”
It’s not just about the goals she scores, either. Crouse relentlessly pressures opposing defenses when she doesn’t have the ball, causing mistakes and turnovers. In Friday’s 1-0 win against Minnesota, Crouse’s pressure forced a Golden Gophers defender to attempt a back pass to the goalkeeper, but the ball went in for the only goal.
“It’s a selfless way to play,” Hurd said. “She’s doing the work for the player behind her so they don’t have to defend as much. That speaks more about her attitude and commitment to the rest of the team than it does her talent level. That’s what sets her apart.”