With a newly appointed head coach and a young squad, the Seton Hall women’s golf team could have been forgiven for taking a year or two to adjust to the new environment surrounding the program. Instead, the Pirates won three team events and several individual titles, improving upon the previous year to take home second place at the Big East Championship and cap a triumphant 2017-18 campaign.
“As a coach and as a team, especially in the Big East, the expectation is always to perform at our best,” Seton Hall coach Natalie Desjardins said.
Desjardins, who joined the Pirates this fall after a successful six-year coaching tenure at her alma mater LIU-Brooklyn, stressed that she wants her golfers to believe in themselves and perform to the best of their ability each day.
“That’s the one thing about golf,” Desjardins said. “It’s such a mental sport that we have so many outside distractions that can affect us out on the course.”
That focused philosophy has manifested itself with impressive showings on and off the course from the eight-woman squad.
After a fall season that concluded with a victory at the Brown Bear Invitational in Seekonk, Mass. from Oct. 15-16, the Pirates picked up where they left off in their first event of the spring. Freshman Mia Kness followed up her first-ever individual title in Seekonk with another top-10 finish, leading the Pirates to a comeback victory at the Rio Verde Invitational.
Following a 10th-place finish at the competitive River Landing Classic from March 5-6, the Pirates earned their third team-victory of the year at the Low Country Invitational in Hilton Head, S.C. from March 17-18. At Low Country, Seton Hall senior Cassie Pantelas shined, finishing tied for third among individual scorers as she led the squad to an eight-stroke triumph over Albany and the rest of the field.
Kness, Sammie Staudt and Lizzie Win all finished in the top 10 on the individual leaderboard.
With a young squad and the coaching change, senior leadership proved to be key for the Pirates in 2017-18.
“Cassie and Macky [Fouse] have been great leaders for this team,” Desjardins said. “They led this team on and off the golf course… and we should talk about their performance in the classroom – these girls have had the top GPA amongst all sports here, so they do it right.”
After match-play against Ivy League opponents Penn on March 31 and Princeton on April 1, the Hall golfers faced their toughest competition of the year at the Lady Buckeye Invitational on April 14, hosted by Ohio State University. While the Pirates finished last in the field of 14, one that included several of the nation’s top-ranked programs, the challenge of both the course and opposition served as preparation for the most important tournament of the spring, the Big East Championship.
Pantelas, Win and Kness all tied for fourth place in individual scoring at the Championship, lifting the Pirates to second place as a team in the Callawassie Island, S.C. on April 22. While disappointed to not come away with the title at the end of the season, Desjardins is proud of what her players accomplished and is looking forward to the future with her young, rapidly developing team.
“The fact that we have had so much success in the last couple years – but especially this year – I’m looking forward to getting the sophomores back as juniors, they’ve matured a lot throughout the season,” Desjardins said. “Obviously with my upperclassmen leaving, I’ll be relying on Lizzie, Maddie and Sammie a lot, to help lead the squad and help lead the freshmen coming in.”
While the 2017-18 chapter of the Seton Hall women’s golf program may be over, and with it the careers of two standout Pirates in Pantelas and Fouse, everyone involved is thrilled with the upward trajectory of the program.
“The future is definitely bright for the team,” Desjardins said. “We just got done on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to getting back, going again in August, and getting started where we left off.”
Kyle Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notkylebeck.