While the Seton Hall women’s golf program is in just its fifth year, it has quickly delivered hardware to the athletic department. Coming off their first Big East Championship and an NCAA East Regional berth last spring, the Pirates have built off the success and have produced two more championship efforts this fall. For the first time in program history, the team produced a top-five finish in every invitational this season.
With wins at the Bucknell Invitational (1st out of 14) and the St. John’s Invitational (1st out of 12), one might think that the Pirates have had a consistent line-up of talent that has produced throughout the season. Not exactly. In fact, head coach Sara Doell has changed the five-player starting line-up three different times. The Setonian got a chance to sit down with Doell, the reigning Big East Coach of the Year, for a Q&A on what it’s been like to lead this program, which delivered the first conference title since 2011 for the University.
JF: When you had the highs of last spring and now it looks as if you have even more talent this year, how enjoyable has this experience been for you?
SD: It’s been awesome. I really do love getting to the course day in and day out. We have no attitudes on this team. Everybody gets along. I have never had so much fun.
JF: Erin McClure and Ali Kruse have both had their share of strong performances throughout their four years with the program. As seniors, their experience has to be special. At the same time, what is it like to have a freshman champion in Cassie Pantelas, who won the St. John’s Invitational?
SD: I think it speaks volumes about our team. Our depth can’t be underestimated in any way. When I look at our team, any one of our girls can shoot the lowest round of the day and I won’t be surprised. Cassie is a gamer. She brings a competitive edge to the table, and as a freshman, that’s impressive. I think that’s the one thing that we have from top to bottom as well. Yes, there’s senior leadership, but I don’t really have to push these girls much. They push one another.
JF: How much did a Big East championship do for you on the recruiting pathway?
SD: It definitely has players that I wouldn’t typically reach out to because of the area in which they live reach out to me. We’ve got more kids inquiring about the program. I have lined up a couple verbal commits for next season. Our program’s exposure has climbed. Last week, we were ranked 90th in the country, which is the highest we’ve ever been. High school golfers are finding out about Seton Hall.
JF: When you’ve changed your line-up three times this season, what’s it going to be like this spring when you have to choose from five golfers for the Big East Championship?
SD: All seven players have a plane ticket (to Florida) for the Big East Championship. I told them that any one of the five can be in our line-up. On top of that, I want our entire team to be there and on hand for that moment. But in all honesty, we have questions to answer this spring. It’s a good problem to have, but it will be tough to narrow down our line-up of five for the conference championship.
JF: When you have a group that’s this competitive, how’s life off the course?
SD: The girls have already planned on going together on a trip over Christmas break to Florida for a week. We’ve never had anything like that. Just like I get excited to be with them day in and day out, they’re a hungry group that continues to raise the bar higher.
The Pirates’ spring slate will be released later this week. A highlight will be a trip to Arizona, where McClure is originally from. “There’s no doubt in my mind,” Doell said. “We have our sights set and I know we can go after another Big East title.”
John Fanta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on @John_Fanta.