Graduate shattered Bronco record books

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Although Alexa Panyk’s soccer career concluded, her four years at Union Grove will be hard to forget, especially after she shattered the school record books.

Her unforgettable mark includes a program record 74 career goals, single-season points with 52 and career points at 189.

Alexa Panyk

If that isn’t enough, Panyk finished her career second all-time in single-season goals at 20, which she did twice, along with single-season assists at 13 and career assists at 41.

Panyk, meanwhile, became the first-ever back-to-back Southern Lakes Conference Player of the Year by winning the award again as a senior when she earned Honorable Mention All-State.

Panyk, just the second Bronco to earn conference Player of the Year, was named first team All-Conference her last three seasons.

“I don’t think I ever envisioned any of this would happen, but it was good to see all of my hard work pay off,” said Panyk, who said her teammates were instrumental in her success.

“I couldn’t have done it all without my team.”

Union Grove coach Sean Jung said Panyk’s commendation does not come as a surprise, considering her success was not limited to goals, pointing out her career assist mark at 41.

“She’s definitely a team-first kid, evidenced by her impressive assist total,” Jung said. “If anything, I tried to get her to be more selfish, as she could change an entire match almost by herself.”

Panyk prospers
As a freshman, when Panyk accounted for 15 goals and six assists, Jung knew she had potential to become an elite athlete.

Jung’s prediction came true, as she pitched in 20 goals along with 10 assists as a sophomore, 20 goals and 12 assists her junior season followed by 19 goals and 13 assists last spring.

“From her freshman year she was an elite athlete, incredibly skilled and so dangerous going forward, but as she got older everyone knew her name and she received a bevy of defensive attention,” said Jung.

Panyk acknowledged she became a target for defenders, indicating she did what she could to take the pressure off of her, often kicking the ball to her teammates.

At times, she admits it became an obstacle, but was able to regain some mental composure.

Jung remembers some games where more than two defenders tried to stop her.

“There were matches when you would see 2-3 defenders standing right next to her, but she never made excuses nor complained, instead she would pull those defenders away and allow other girls to shine,” he said.

“Despite the attention she still led us in scoring in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.”

Panyk, however, credited multiple teammates, including junior captain and midfielder Kayla Maurer.

Maurer, according to Panyk, became one of her go-to players on the field.

“She is one of the most hardworking players I have ever been around,” Panyk said.

“She brings everything to the table, she is so aggressive. She is just an all-around very good player,” she said.

Team-first player
When asked what her favorite memories were, Panyk said they all involved her team’s accomplishments, including the Broncos second consecutive conference title last season.

The Broncos, who captured their first in program history when she was a junior, defeated Burlington to claim the championship.

Overall, she has several other memorable moments, and admits she struggled to pick just one.

“I really couldn’t pick just one, but before every home game, we have a team dinner and that was a really great time hanging out,” she said.

Her teammates include graduated classmates Hailey Hoffman, Isela Gonzales, Daphne Sieg, twin sister Carlista and Natalie Oatsvall.

The seniors, including Panyk, have played a critical role in helping Jung with his team mantra.

“For me as an educator and coach of young adults, the No. 1 most important thing is that the kids support each other, work for each other, and buy-in to a family concept from the start,” he said. “Alexa was part of a class that took that mantra to the next level.”

As for Panyk, what she will miss most is Jung, who not only helped her become a better player, but also as a person.

“I think I am going to miss Coach Jung the most, he is the best coach I could ever ask for, he pushes everybody to be the best they can and I absolutely loved playing for him,” she said.

“He doesn’t really want us to just be the best soccer we can be, he wants us to be the best person we can be. He is such an inspiration.”

Looking ahead
Panyk plans to attend University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she will focus solely on her studies.

As she left her mark, Panyk believes the Broncos continue their success.

“Coach Jung has always told us to play like a family, and that is why we have been so successful,” she said. “I think they will be really good next year.”

Panyk, meanwhile, said every player should hold onto the memories because the games can fly by quickly.

“I would say enjoy it, because it really does go by fast and cherish every moment,” she said.

She certainly will cherish the moment with her sister, Carlista, who will attend UW-Madison.

“It was just awesome because we grew up playing together on the same teams, so we had a lot of team chemistry when we played,” she said.