On paper, it is hard to see positivity within this year’s performance of the women’s golf team. Last fall, they finished 14th, 8th and 9th in their first three tournaments, but there was hope that the young team, composed of four freshmen, two sophomores and one junior, could turn things around come springtime.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. A recent injury to Michelle Picca, the team’s only upperclassman, certainly wasn’t beneficial, as the team has finished 9th, 16th and 9th in three out of the last four tournaments. Their one notable finish was a 4th place ranking at the MJGA Collegiate Invite in Las Vegas, their first top-five finish in nearly one full year.
“I think the team has been struggling recently,” said freshman Summer Marshall. “We just lost one of our strongest players, Michelle, but I think we’ve definitely shown improvement over the season. I also think we’re a really young team. We’re all freshmen except for one sophomore, and I think that’s definitely affected our success.”
The team rankings throughout the tournaments outside of the MJGA Collegiate Invite might not be showing significant improvement, but there is promising individual play within the team. Marshall finished in the top 20 through back-to-back tournaments in February, while freshman Christine Perez was named the PacWest Women’s Golfer of the Week for March 7-13. In addition to individual accolades, team chemistry does not seem to be an issue at all, according to sophomore Emily Smith.
“We’re a functional team. And in the next couple years, we’re going to reach the top,” said Smith. “I think we’re doing fine… The girls are very supportive, and practice is a lot of fun. They make me a better captain. They rely on me and they respect me. I just love being with them.”
Not only is the team young, but this is also Lance Hancock’s first full season as head coach and only his second year with the team, compounding the narrative of a team that needs time to gel.
“He’s been super welcoming. He really cares for us,” said Marshall. “I think that’s really shown to everyone. I feel the love and support from him all the time. When you have a bad day, he’s always supportive. Overall, he just wants to help us play well and ultimately glorify God.”
After completing their final tournament of the regular season on April 3, the team will travel to Litchfield Park, Arizona to compete in the PacWest Championships, scheduled for April 23-25.