Not every athlete gets to end their career on the highest of notes, but for Seton Hall women’s golfer Ali Kruse that will not be the case.
Sitting in the Seton Hall Athletics film room on Monday, April 27, the senior, along with her coach and teammates, found out she would be heading to Raleigh, N.C., to partake in her second NCAA Tournament in as many years. The Pirates, who will be ranked 16th in the 18-team Regional field, received an automatic bid following their second straight Big East Tournament win.
The NCAA Tournament will take place between May 7 and 9 at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course.
Kruse could not be more excited to be back at the Big Dance.
“I would have had a fantastic senior year regardless of whether we walked home with a Big East title or not, Kruse said. “But all of the extras that come with winning the Big East and going to Regionals – it’s just a great way to cap off my career here at Seton Hall.”
Kruse said that last year’s success was a bit of a surprise to her and her teammates. This year it was expected.
“I honestly believe this team, numbers-wise, is the most successful women’s golf team Seton Hall has ever had,” the 2014 All-Big East Team selection said. “I really wanted it this year because we have such a great team and I knew that we could compete. It’s a little different; last year was a surprise and this year it was like we were supposed to win, so let’s go out there and do it.”
As head coach Sara Doell pointed out, playing in North Carolina has its advantages for the Hall.
“We’re thrilled to be heading to Raleigh, the closest location of the four possible regionals,” Doell said. “It is certainly the most convenient for us and it’s a location that our friends and family will be able to travel to easily. We can’t wait to get there.”
For Kruse, the part about convenience may not hold true for her family. A native of Oakland Park, Kan., Kruse’s kin are not exactly right around the corner, or a short drive away for that matter. Kruse said she only gets to go home about once a semester. Still, the golfer’s family has made it a point to see her play over the years.
“My family is super supportive,” she said. “My parents have been to four out of our five tournaments this year and they plan on coming to Regionals.”
A business major, Kruse already has a job with HSBC lined up after she graduates. She will be working as a junior analyst with the company’s debt capital markets desk in New York City. She said she thinks the lessons she has learned on the links will help her in the business world. She talked about being a team player, communicating with different people and being a leader.
“She has proved invaluable,” Doell said in regards to Kruse’s leadership abilities. “She guided the younger ones, she’s very rational. She makes sure that she takes care of herself, but she’s always taking care of and pushing those around her to be better.”
Regardless of what happens in Raleigh, Kruse said she could not ask for a better end to her college career. A two-time conference champ, she played an instrumental part in the Hall’s most recent Big East Championship, tying for fourth with a 12-over-par, 76-74-78-228.
When she gets to North Carolina, she will do what she can to make her final go-around on the course last as long as possible. Doell, knowing that her senior does not have much time left, offered Kruse some advice as the senior’s career comes to a close.
“Give back to Seton Hall,” Doell said jokingly before getting serious. “I would tell her to stay true to who she is, which she has always done. Just stay true to the person that she is. She has really strong morals and values and very strong faith and that’s really led her through her time here.”
Gary Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.