Pannone anchors defense for Nor’easters

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Former Woodland goalie named CCC Defensive Player of the Year

University of New England junior goalie Jenna Pannone, a Woodland graduate and Prospect resident, was named Commonwealth Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year this season. -DAVID BATES PHOTO

In her sophomore season, Jenna Pannone became a central figure on defense for the University of New England women’s soccer team.

The former Woodland goalie started 12 games in net last year for the Nor’easters of Biddeford, Maine. The Nor’easters were 9-2-1 in games Pannone started last year and finished 10-8-2 overall.

Pannone shined in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament, posting shutouts in 1-0 wins in the semifinals and final as the Nor’easters won their first league title in over 20 years.

Pannone, a Prospect resident, followed up her breakout sophomore campaign with a stellar junior year. She started all 21 games this season for the Nor’easters, making 120 saves in the process while giving up 19 goals.

Pannone saved a career-high 13 shots in the CCC semifinals and made six saves in the championship game — a 1-0 win over Endicott — as the Nor’easters claimed their second straight conference title.

“Winning the CCC title last year was so exciting,” Pannone said. “To win it again this year was just unbelievable.”

The University of New England finished the year 13-6-2 and earned a second straight trip to the NCAA Division III tournament, where the season ended with 2-0 loss in the first round.

“We had a big senior class this year, and they all contributed to our success,” Pannone said. “We are a close-knit team and have good chemistry. Our (head) coach, Carly Gettler, put us in a position to have the opportunity to play for the CCC championship two years in row.”

Pannone allowed just one goal and recorded five shutouts in six CCC tournament games over the past two years, and the conference has taken notice. Pannone was named CCC Defensive Player of the Year this season and also earned All-CCC first team honors.

“Obviously I couldn’t have done any of this without the stellar defense out in front of me,” Pannone said. “The defensive player of the year award is such a reflection on all the coaches and teammates I’ve had throughout my career that have helped me to become the player I am today.”

Gettler said the accolades are well-deserved.

“Jenna is one of the few players I’ve coached who not only consistently maintains a high level of play day-in and day-out, but who also responds to pressure in a positive manner and raises her level even higher when faced with adversity,” Gettler said. “She is positive, humble and driven, and we are all so proud to have her as part of our UNE women’s soccer program.”

Gettler described Pannone as an incredible athlete, student and teammate.

“She is very coachable, and it’s been amazing to watch her transform into a leader within our program over the past three seasons,” Gettler said.

Off the field, Pannone is studying neuroscience. She said the key to success to balancing athletics and academics is time management. She offered up some advice for any high school athlete considering going on to play in college.

“I would tell any high school player to go for it,” Pannone said. “There are so many lessons learned from sports that will open doors down the road. For me it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

“You will develop some of the best friendships that you will ever have,” she added. “Success may not come right away, but if you stick with it success will eventually come, and the lessons you learn along the way will carry with you for the rest of your life.”

Success has certainly arrived for Pannone, who has her senior season ahead of her to add to her accomplishments.

“We are going to be losing a lot of seniors, so next year will be a challenge. But getting back to the CCC championship game would certainly be a special way to end my career,” she said.

In the end, Pannone said, the goal isn’t necessarily winning another championship or conference award.

“The goal is to just go out and have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime,” she said.