Pannone puts her mind to college success

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By Mark Jaffee, Republican-American

Former Woodland High goalie Jenna Pannone helped lead the University of New England to two Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament championships. -COURTESY OF DAVID BATES PHOTOGRAPHY

Prospect’s Jenna Pannone’s college resume makes her an ideal candidate for Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges as a true scholar-athlete.

Studying neuroscience at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, the 2017 Woodland High graduate holds a 3.75 grade-point average.

Her accolades in the classroom are numerous, being selected to the Commonwealth Coast Conference All-Academic team and the United Soccer Coaches Division III Scholar East Region second-team, as well as being inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society.

On pace to graduate in May, Pannone, 21, has set her sights on applying to medical schools to either pursue a career as a psychiatrist or neurologist.

To gain practical experience, Pannone has worked as a patient companion this fall at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford.

A starting goaltender, Pannone also has enjoyed plenty of rewards based on her performance on the soccer field, compiling 25 career wins and 10 shutouts, including five in 2019.

As a sophomore in 2018, Pannone earned All-CCC first-team honors and All-New England second-team honors.

A year later, Pannone was selected as conference Defensive Player of the Year, as UNE captured the CCC Tournament championship for the second straight year.

Pannone said balancing the academic and athletic demands has been challenging, but manageable.

“I’ve studied four or five hours a night on average and there have been a lot of late nights in the library,” Pannone said. “I knew that coming into college. I just needed to have the mindset to make it all work. I didn’t mind putting in the hours because I enjoy everything I do.”

Pannone was set for her senior year as a team captain, but the league canceled the season due to COVID-19 pandemic. While the NCAA granted waivers for athletes to gain another year of eligibility, Pannone anticipates getting clinical job experience next fall and doesn’t foresee having the time to juggle both.

“It’s definitely not the way I wanted my career to end, but I feel really lucky to be a part of this successful program in the years I did get to play,” Pannone said

Should Pannone reconsider her decision to return in 2021, UNE women’s soccer coach Carly Gettler would welcome her back in a heartbeat.

“Jenna has such a great attitude and a phenomenal work ethic,” Gettler said. “The year before she got here, we graduated a four-year starter and the position was open. Jenna kept a positive attitude in sharing the position that year. The next year she won the spot outright and we won the first of two league tournament titles. The amount of work she put in coming into camp prepared set her apart. Her confidence grew and she was able to step up in a big role and once we gave her the job, she never looked back. She has always risen to the occasion and is a very positive, happy person who has a (strong) competitive edge.”

A three-year starter at Woodland, Pannone was a two-time captain and two-time All-Naugatuck Valley League selection in 2015 and 2016. In 2015 as a junior, Pannone helped the Hawks to the NVL title over Watertown and a Class M semifinal berth, where they lost to Enfield on penalty kicks.

Her impact was immeasurable, noted Woodland soccer coach Cait Witham.

“Jenna was one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” said Witham, a former goaltender at Woodland and 2006 graduate. “I told her all of the time that she was better than me. She anticipated and read the game really well and was able to make big-time saves. She’s very agile and has a really good vertical leap.”

Not her primary sport, Pannone also left her mark on the hardcourt as well.

“Jenna’s work ethic is insane,” Hawks girls basketball coach Jess Moffo added. “She always gave 100% and was the most dedicated player I ever coached. Her mindset was above and beyond anyone else. She led the team in charges a game. She would do whatever it took to help the team.”

Pannone appreciated the high praise from both Witham and Moffo, noting “That the two of them have encouraged me so much and have helped me get where I am today.”