Starting on April 20, the Seton Hall women’s golf team will be at the Big East Tournament, a contest that has been very kind to them over the past three years.
The Pirates will be gearing up to defend their title and go for a fourth straight Big East championship, but things are a bit different this year.
This is a younger team than the ones that have taken part in the Big East tournament over the past three years, a team that doesn’t feature a single senior.
Despite the team’s youth and Georgetown being the favorite heading into the tournament, head coach Sara Doell is confident that her girls will be up for the challenge of winning a fourth consecutive championship.
“We know we can win and we have proven it the last three years,” Doell said. “In such a competitive field over 54 holes, anything can happen.”
Given the youth of the team, the Pirates only return two players who have played in and won a Big East Championship in Cassie Pantelas and Macky Fouse. The two have been valuable pieces for Doell all season both on the course and in leadership roles.
“They’ve assumed that leadership role since day one,” Doell said. “Cassie is our captain and has done a great job of leading this team to where we are today and Macky is a strong leader in her own right. I believe the younger players really look to them for guidance and those two have done a remarkable job.”
Three of those younger players are freshmen Sammie Staudt, Maddie Sager and Lizzie Win. This will be their first time facing the stage that is the Big East Tournament and facing all of the pressure that comes with it.
“The championship is a different experience than other events and you don’t want to not prepare them for whatever pressure that can bring.” Doell said. “We talk a lot about how the event is run, what to expect from the field and how to manage emotions.”
Although the magnitude of the tournament is undeniable, Doell works to keep things business as usual for the women.
“You want them to know how special it is to compete in your conference championship while reminding them that when it comes down to it, it is just you against the golf course like every other event,” Doell said.
Staudt acknowledged that there will be some nerves as they walk to the first tee on Friday, but she, along with the rest of her underclassmen teammates, will be ready.
“The upperclassmen have been helping us prepare for this since we first stepped on campus in August,” Staudt said. “They always tell us exactly how it is, so I believe we know what to expect.”
While winning the tournament is the ultimate goal, especially for a team that has done it three times in a row, there are things that can be taken away from the team’s performance in the tournament other than its ability to come away with a championship.
“We had a meeting where we talked about the process and staying in the moment,” Doell said. “I asked them that when they step off the 18th green on Sunday, that they be proud of how they handled themselves and by staying positive, confident and resilient. Successfully four-peating would be amazing and I have let them know that no matter how this tournament pans out, we have had a successful year and I am very proud of them.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler.calvaruso.