Pulling over to the side of the freeway with a flat tire is normally an experience to forget. For Seton Hall women’s golf, it was the exact opposite.
Coming back from their final practice round last Friday in preparation for the season-opening Bucknell Invitational, the Pirates’ van had a tire go flat on the freeway. Immediately, that led to players calling for AAA and the wait for assistance. Not long before the ride back to the hotel, the scoring line-up for The Hall had been announced. That left two of the five out from representing the team’s final totals. Awkward? Not for the reigning Big East champions.
“We had so much fun,” head coach Sara Doell said. “It was actually a bonding experience, just talking and playing games with the team while waiting on the freeway. We had to get our clubs out once the help arrived as we waited for a new van. We got some interesting reactions with golf gear on a freeway, to say the least.”
The flat tire was anything but a bad omen for the weekend, as two days later, the Pirates hoisted the team title trophy at Bucknell.
SHU shot a team-record low score of 293 in Sunday’s final round of the Bucknell Invitational, finishing with a score of 899. The Hall found itself in a duel with rival Rutgers, but the Big East champions found a way to pull it out.
“This is a different victory that we’ve had to date,” said Doell. “In our previous four wins as a program, we had the lead going into the final round. But on Sunday, coming back was really special, and I tried to pump the girls up the night before. Knowing that we had the opportunity to battle back against our arch rival was huge.”
Senior Erin McClure, an All-Big East Team honoree last year, ended up just two strokes off the lead at 12-over par. McClure’s runner-up finish was the seventh top-5 performance in her career. Junior Karlie Zabrosky was not far behind, delivering a 15-over-par, fourth-place finish.
“Erin has not skipped a beat,” Doell said. “And Karlie has worked so hard during the summer. It’s so nice to see it pay off.”
The early comeback story of the year for SHU emerged over the weekend as well, as redshirt senior McKenzie Cutter qualified for the first tournament of the year after suffering a back injury last year and tied for eighth place.
“The special thing about this team is that any one of these girls can step up and perform in any given situation,” Doell said.
The Pirates will head to the William and Mary Invitational this weekend to face off with some familiar foes.
McClure, Zabrosky, and Cutter will be joined by senior Ali Kruse, who has already made her presence felt in her first three seasons. The 2014 All-Big East Team honoree will look to build off a successful final round at Bucknell. A 73 score on Sunday surged Kruse into 10th place overall, giving her the 14th finish at that mark in her career, which is a program record. Tying for 20th was Cassie Pantelas, who finished at 27-over-par in her collegiate debut and will round out the Pirates’ five this weekend.
“I anticipate this line-up being very competitive and changing quite a bit,” Doell said. Junior Megan Tenhundfeld competed as an individual coming off an All-Big East season and finished at 27-over-par in a tie with Pantelas while freshman Macky Fouse was just four off of that score.
This weekend will serve as a Big East appetizer for the Pirates as they will face off in the invitational with conference foes Georgetown and St. John’s, among others. Host William and Mary garnered a third-place finish at Bucknell after Tribe junior Alessandra Liu took third (224, +14) behind McClure.
This will be SHU’s first visit to the Plantation Course at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia, which is a par-72 course designed by Arnold Palmer. Action will begin with the first round on Sunday in the three-day tournament.
Follow thesetonian.com for updates.
John Fanta can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @John_Fanta.