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Berth to the NCAA East Regionals gives Women's Golf "the cherry on top"

Sara Doell sat in the Seton Hall athletic department just four years ago seeking a job. She didn't know who was going to be a part of her program, but just hoped to get it off the ground. The Pirates had cut track and field, putting them down to 13 athletic programs, leaving a slot open for women's golf to emerge onto the scene.

Is it a sport that sells tickets or has a huge fan base? No, but the program has given the university more than it could ask for in just four years. Doell, the Big East Coach of the Year, now leads her team into Tallahassee, Florida, to take on a field of 23 other teams in the NCAA East Regionals after the blue and white won the Big East Championship. The Hall, which outlasted the rest of the field by seven strokes, also has three named to the All-Big East Team.

"My life has been surreal these past couple weeks," Doell said. "You dream of moments like this, but I never thought it would come just four years into it. This is the cherry on top for me."

Junior Erin McClure leads the field of three Pirates on the All-Big East Team after posting a team-best 76.00 scoring average. She was not done with her achievements, even after winning the Rutgers Invitational with a score of 2-over-par. McClure tied for second in the Big East Championship, as did Seton Hall sophomore Megan Tenhundfeld, who also landed her name to the all-conference squad. The Ohio native turned on the jets in round two with a score of 1-over-par en route to runner-up individually. Junior Ali Kruse rounded out the Pirates' honors after putting up the lowest scoring total for the year after she put up four, top-five finishes.

"While the younger classes have had much success, the seniors laid the ground work," Doell said. The Pirates say farewell to the first senior class in program history, and while there is only one senior in their five-player line-up, that senior is quite arguably the most decorated in the program's history. On top of being recognized at the team banquet with the "Pirate Award," essentially the MVP, 2012 All-Big East Team honoree Hannah Basalone has written her mark in the history books as one of the founders of the program.

"If you had told me four years ago we'd win the Big East before I graduated, I probably wouldn't have believed you," said Basalone, who finished 13th for the Pirates at the conference championship.

The Pirates face a loaded field with ACC champion Duke and Pac-12 champion Stanford among two of the top three of the 24 teams, but they aren't looking at the other teams. "Just because we're one of the lowest seeds doesn't mean that we can't make a move," sophomore Karlie Zabrosky said.

"At the Big East (Championship), we knew we had a legitimate shot to win," Doell said. " Now, we're just trying to shock some teams." What gives the Pirates a bright future is the fact that they only have one senior in their five-player line-up. It bodes well for a program with a championship under its belt just four years in. And on top of having some jewelry, the program has hosted its first ever invitational at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, NJ.

While this team is a back-end seed, they have had the unexpected occur for them before, and that did not change during their team banquet on Sunday. The phrase "my money's on them" does not seem significant at face value. But when it comes from the money man, himself, it means the world. Donald Trump walked into the party room at his course, the site of Sunday's banquet, and followed his congratulations up by smiling and exclaiming the phrase. If they're good enough for "The Donald" himself, all bets are off as to what 23rd-seeded Seton Hall can do this week.

The Pirates begin play Thursday, May 8, with eight of the top 24 teams advancing to the NCAA Championships.

Zabrosky said it best when looking at the challenge ahead at Southwood Golf Club.

"Who knows what might happen?"

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The field:

1. Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference)

2. South Carolina

3. Stanford (Pac-12)

4. Vanderbilt (Southeastern Conference)

5. Pepperdine (West Coast Conference)

6. UCF

7. Virginia

8. Auburn

9. NC State

10. Florida State

11. Kentucky

12. Tulane (Conference USA)

13. Louisville (American Athletic Conference)

14. Baylor

15. East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)

16. Georgia

17. Campbell (Big South)

18. East Carolina

19. Texas State

20. College of Charleston (Colonial Athletic Association)

21. Troy (Sun Belt)

22. Murray State (Ohio Valley)

23. Seton Hall (Big East)

24. Alabama State (Southwestern Athletic Conference)

John Fanta can be reached at john.fanta@student.shu.eduor on Twitter @John_Fanta. For full coverage of Seton Hall Athletics on the go, follow @SetonianSports.


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