The 2015 Big East Championship was very different than last year’s for the Seton Hall women’s golf program.
But, when Saturday afternoon arrived in Daytona Beach, Fla., head coach Sara Doell and the Pirates were in tears of joy for the second straight year, hoisting another Big East Championship trophy.
The Hall used a fast start on championship Saturday to build a double-digit lead on the rest of the field, and hung on to edge the Georgetown Hoyas by just a stroke with a total team score of 914.
It came down to Megan Tenhundfeld on the 18th green.
“We knew we were up by a sizeable advantage for a little while, but as the afternoon went on, we saw that lead dwindle when looking at the scoring updates every three holes,” Doell said.
The junior found a way to make it up-and-down and finished with a par. At that point, the Pirates still did not know what they needed to win.
“We thought we had either won by a stroke, it was tied, or we had fallen by a stroke,” Doell added.
The par was just enough for SHU to hang on, and after the official leaderboard tallied the Pirates as a winner, the celebration began.
“I would be lying to you if I told you there weren’t tears during our celebration,” Doell said. “It’s such a thrill to be a champion. It’s so exciting to see what we’ve come from.”
The Pirates entered the day in a tie for the lead with Xavier and with a one-shot lead over the Hoyas, but exploded early on.
Senior Erin McClure aced five birdies on the day, starting with a 4 on the par-5 second hole. After birdying the fourth, McClure dropped one on the fifth but picked back up with a bird on the seventh. She started the back nine with a birdie on the 10th, and hit another on 13. A 2-under 70 led her to finishing tied for second overall individually in the championship.
As for McClure’s classmate Ali Kruse, the senior shot a 2-under on the front nine, but an 8-over on the back nine put her back to finishing in a tie for fourth.
“It’s been so amazing to see Erin (McClure) and Ali (Kruse) develop throughout these last three years,” Doell said. “They went through a lot in their freshman season. But they never quit. They really have been able to grow that type of an attitude as the years have gone on. I am so proud of them. They’re true fighters.”
While Tenhundfeld started off the day with the lead, a 10-over, 82, kept her from hanging on at the top of the leaderboard, but her crucial par on 18 was clutch.
“Megan (Tenhundfeld) always rises to the occasion in the biggest of situations,” Doell said. “There is something about her that always helps her to step up.”
One of the biggest performances of the day came from Cassie Pantelas. The freshman shot a 2-over, 74, and completed a three-day championship that saw her improve every single day. After Pantelas shot 81 on Thursday, she improved to shoot 78, and followed that up with a round that was four shots better.
Junior Karlie Zabrosky finished at 11-over on the tournament.
“What makes me the proudest is that our team owned the course on the final day,” Doell said. “We did not finish the strongest, but we started red hot and found a way. They came ready to perform. That is what we have stressed all season long.”
Before they hit the course on Sunday, Doell’s freshmen, Macky Fouse and Pantelas, made the pump-up speech.
“Normally, I do the speeches, but on Saturday we had Erin and Ali talk to the team,” Doell said. “They started a rap song and we could not stop laughing. On Saturday, the freshmen talked about what each player brings to the team. It got us ready to go. It spoke volumes about how close we are as a team.”
Doell brought up just one more comment before she got off the phone in Florida when asked what it will feel like to see two championship banners next to each other adjacent to the track at the Richie Regan Recreation Center.
“It’s going to be fun to run by those,” she said.
The Hall awaits where the team will go for the NCAA Regional Round. Selection Monday is Monday, April 27, on Golf Channel at 7 p.m.
Seton Hall (914)
St. John’s (949)
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