Penn Yan & Section V's first State Champion Girls Lacrosse team will be inducted into the Penn Yan Academy Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 18.

If you look up the definition of the word “Team,” you will find it means a group of individuals who work together to form a cohesive unit. The team’s individuals make a concerted effort to achieve a goal or a common end. In the wide world of sports, this means finding a way to win together and achieve a championship. Teamwork means just that. Working together — a group of players working as one. As the old saying goes, “There is no “I” in the word team. When this team concept in sports works, it is a pretty thing to watch.

The PYA sports programs over the years have produced a large number of winning, championship teams in a wide variety of sports, both boys and girls. The winning mind set is not only good for the individuals and coaches that make things happen, it is also very good for the school and the community. The positive energy created by these winning teams pulls the entire town together. The idea of school spirit and community pride take on a special meaning. Over the years, our Penn Yan community has been blessed with these special teams and times.

Besides winning a championship and achieving your winning goals, it makes it even more special when you are the first group to achieve a goal. Penn Yan Academy’s Girl’s Lacrosse team of 1998 can proudly say they did just that. The 1998 Penn Yan Mustang Girl’s lacrosse team was absolutely perfect. They ran the table by winning a Finger Lakes Conference championship, a Section V title, and completed their perfect season by sweeping through the New York State tournament, bringing home the ultimate trophy — a New York State Class B championship. They were a perfect 24-0 that memorable season and were the first Penn Yan team or Section V team to win a New York State title. Needless to say, the school and community went wild over their lofty accomplishments. It was a very special year to live in Penn Yan and be a Penn Yan Mustang supporter.

The 1998 Mustang girl’s lacrosse team did not just stumble into this success. Winning does not just happen, it takes a huge amount of dedication and hard work to pull this off. This winning Mustang team started playing together in the 8th grade.

Girl’s lacrosse was a new sport in the Finger Lakes League with just a few schools in the league with teams. Most of the girl’s high school lacrosse programs were in the Greater Rochester area. These schools had much larger enrollments, and had been playing the sport for several years. The small schools like Penn Yan had their work cut out for them. In the early years of girl’s lacrosse in the Finger Lakes, the game was much slower and for better lack of term, more polite. It was a relatively slow moving game played with wooden sticks and many times low scoring. With this battling group of Penn Yan lacrosse athletes coming on the scene, the game was about to change. they were not just content to be good lacrosse players and win, they also wanted to be “trend setters.” They quickly achieved all of their goals.

This Penn Yan Mustang girl’s lacrosse team changed the way women’s lacrosse was being played. Basically they started playing the game like the boy’s team did. Up tempo, faster moving, and with a lot more skill. The Penn Yan girls worked hard over the years to improve their stick and passing skills. They used this talented game approach to create scoring chances and many more goals. They used a very aggressive defense to create turnovers and even more scoring chances.

The Penn Yan offense was explosive and their defense rock solid. Mustang boy’s goalie Brett Queener worked with Katie Jensen, goalkeeper of the Mustang girl’s team. The 1998 Mustang girl’s team had everything needed to be a champion. A high scoring, potent offense. A defense that hated to give up scoring chances, and a rock solid goal keeper. They were one of the best teams ever to move the ball up the field in the air. They created offense by moving the ball, cutting and feeding the ball to the net. It was not just one player crashing the net, it was a total team effort. They truly loved playing together and brought a special passion to their game. A winning passion. They had a fast break style of offense that was fun to watch and a defense that was very hard to penetrate. The 1998 Mustang girls probably easily could have scored 40 goals a game but had the class and confidence not to run up the score.

The Road to Success

The “Road to the State Championship” literally started in 1995 as 8th graders playing lacrosse together. This group, as freshmen, went 14-1 that season, losing in the Section V final game 11-10 in overtime. The next year, 1996, the Mustang girl’s were Section V champions, won the Far West Regionals, but lost to Skaneatles in the NYS Semi-finals. In 1997, the PYA laxers went 20-3 during the season, losing twice to Syracuse area powerhouses, Fayetteville-Manlius and Cicero-North Syracuse. They made it to the State finals that year, losing to Garden City. And then came the perfect year, 1998. They were just that, perfect — 24 wins and 0 losses. Penn Yan defeated Long Island’s Garden City 13-6. It was a Garden City team that featured eight top 10, future Division I College players. History was made that day. A Penn Yan team and a Section V team, for the first time, was a New York state Champion! The huge throng of Mustang supporters at Cortland State that day cheered like never before.

A few hours later, the entire Penn Yan community joined them. A special team, a special time.

The 1998 Penn Yan Mustang Girl’s Lacrosse Champions were coached by Patty Queener, the only coach the Penn Yan program has ever had. She was assisted by Dave Pullen that year. Members of the this special team included: Laura Podsiadlo, Michelle King, Susan Payne, LeAnn Karweck, Jessie Trombley, Sarah Queener, Brianne Bastian, Jessica Lerman, Ellie Wigden, Heather Enos, Emily Lilyea, Katy Jensen, Melinda Skinner, Sarah Swarthout, Courtney Maggart, Alaina Axtell, Kristen Carlson, Stephanie Smolos, Adrian Snyder, and Erica Henderson. This championship, Penn Yan Mustang team will be inducted into the Penn Yan Academy Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 18. They will take their deserving place among the school ‘s sport’s elite.