For the third consecutive year the Seton Hall women’s golf team has earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament where they will compete as the No. 18 seed at the Stanford Regional from May 5-7.
In order to secure a third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament the Pirates first had to take care of business in the Big East Tournament, an event that they have now won three years in a row. Seton Hall had a different journey to the title this year, and were expected to finish fourth out of six teams.
“This win is different than the last two because of the path we had to take to get here,” head coach Sara Doell said. “We had a long and tough year with injuries, sickness and other adversity. We overcame it all to win our third straight.”
Despite projections, the Pirates left Callawassie Island as conference champions, defeating runner-up Georgetown by 12 strokes after making up a four-stroke deficit on the last six holes. The Hall finished five-over-par on the final six holes. Georgetown went 19-over-par during the same stretch.
“I have told the team all year long that it is not how you start, it is how you finish. And our finish is exactly how we won,” Doell said.
The success of the team in the Big East Tournament will rely heavily on the performance of their seniors. In the Big East Tournament three upperclassmen finished in the top 10 individually. Seniors Karlie Zabrosky and Megan Tenhundfeld finished tied for fourth and ninth, respectively. Zabrosky’s performance was much improved from her two prior Big East Tournament appearances. Last year she went 29-over-par, 80-82-83-245, but managed a 15-over-par, 76-78- 77-236 in this year’s tournament, a 14-stroke improvement.
Fifth-year graduate student McKenzie Cutter placed 10th individually. This year was Cutter’s first appearance in the tournament since her freshman year.
“McKenzie had a rough go at it her sophomore though senior year,” Doell said. “Coming back as a fifth year grad student, she worked hard on her game and I was so happy that she played well in her final Big East.”
Seton Hall is facing an uphill battle in the Stanford Regional. The field consists of some of the nation’s best programs, including seven teams in the top 25 (No. 2 USC, No. 6 Stanford, No. 12
Arkansas, No. 16 Virginia, No. 18 UNLV, No. 19 San Diego State and No. 24 Colorado). Doell describes the expectations for the Pirates’ performance as “realistic.”
“There is a space that we sit in of being hopeful and realistic. We are going up against some of the best teams in the nation so a goal is to beat some teams in this field and make a good showing. The only expectation that I put on them is to work hard, have fun and represent Seton Hall in a positive light”
The Stanford Regional will be held at the Stanford Golf Course at Stanford University and is one of four preliminary rounds before the national championships May 20-25 at Eugene County Club in Eugene, Oregon. Six teams and three individuals will advance from each regional.
Matt Zeigafuse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on twitter @mattzeigafuse.