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WHAT'S NEXT? FIGHT FOR THE FLAG Annie Pankowski's place on the Badgers' roster is set, but the freshman is battling for a spot on Team USA alongside future teammates and those that paved the way at UW BY A.J. HARRISON • UW ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS W hen Wisconsin women's hockey freshman Annie Pankowski found out she earned an invitation to the United State Women's National Team Selection Camp on June 17-23, she was in disbelief. "I had to ask to be excused from my high school science class because the director of women's hockey (Reagan Carey) and the head coach (Katy Stone) wanted to talk to me on the phone," Pankowski said. "After I hung up the phone, I had to sit on the curb and take a couple seconds to analyze what just happened." "It was not easy to go back into class as the biggest opportunity I have ever had was just presented to me. My heart was racing and I couldn't sit still." Pankowski, a 5-foot-9 forward from Laguna Hills, Calif., has enjoyed tremendous success on the ice. She was named the 2013 Junior Women's Hockey League's Player of the Year after notching 58 goals and 44 assists for 102 points while playing for the JWHL champion North American Hockey Academy. She also has experience playing for the Red, White and Blue, as she played in the 2012 IIHF Women's World U18 Championship, where the U.S. took home the silver medal and Pankowski was named one of the three best players of the tournament for Team USA. "Playing for the U.S. U18 team was my first experience putting on that holy USA jersey," Pankowski said. "Playing at the highest level, under the strongest pressure was an experience that has shaped my career. It was my first indication of 'Look, this is where you belong, what you are meant to do.' "It has definitely pushed me to become better since wearing that jersey with 'USA' on the chest. The jersey and the title definitely forces you to hold yourself to a higher standard." However, this time when Pankowski puts the USA jersey on, she will be the second-youngest player of the 41 competing to represent the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Among the invitees, 13 players are from the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team. Almost all of the players beside Pankowski enter camp with at least one year of college experience. "All these girls have played a year or more in college and some even have Olympic experience," Pankowski said. "It was hard imagining that I was in the same category as these girls who were my