When the play clock read straight zeros on Saturday in Burlington, Vt., Penn State history was made.
“It was unreal,” assistant captain Jenna Welch said. “A huge accomplishment for our program. [It’s] one of the coolest hockey experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Not since 1994, when the women’s soccer team was created, had there been a new varsity program added to Penn State. Unlike 1994, the Penn State women’s hockey team wasted no time and won its first ever Division I game, 5-3, over Vermont.
Head coach Josh Brandwene said even though he is a few days removed from the victory, it is still hard for him to quantify it. He also said there is no shortage of talk amongst the team about the underdog role the Nittany Lions are playing.
“We’re young — we’re new,” Brandwene said. “But we’re also competitive and driven. We love to sneak up on people and really try our best everyday to defy the odds.”
Brandwene also said he’s proud how his squad carried itself this weekend, and the Lions were rewarded for the work they put in leading up to the game.
Forward Shannon Yoxheimer tallied the first goal in Penn State history with less than four minutes remaining in the first period of the team’s inaugural game.
Yoxheimer said her first score was one of the best feelings because of the significance behind the goal.
“I didn’t expect that,” Yoxheimer said. “That was just awesome, especially with my line mates. To [celebrate] with them, that was pretty sick.”
Yoxheimer notched another goal in the third period against the Catamounts and led the team with 10 shots on the weekend.
Defender Lindsay Reihl said she came back to State College receiving congratulations and feeling a little bit like a hero. Reihl was singled out in her psychology senior seminar by her professor and received a round of applause from her classmates in her first class back after the win.
Reihl, who is one of only two seniors featured on the squad, said the Lions are always working to improve their systems, and they know what they have to do. Reihl also said the team had some speed bumps to overcome in order to post the first win.
“It was our first time, so I think that was the biggest obstacle,” Reihl said. “Just getting us all out there, getting us to start our first game, but once we got going, we were going hard, and we did it well.”
Brandwene said his team’s ability to adjust and listen to the changes that were made on the bench and in the locker room will not only serve it well in the short-term but the long-term, as well, because making adjustments is part of hockey.
Brandwene also said the Lions executed many things well, but the weekend showed points of emphasis that they want to improve on.
“That’s really part of the process every week,” Brandwene said. “Identify what we did well, build on it and make sure the things that we need to get better are a constant priority for us.”