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Women’s golf hopes to repeat in NCAA Championships
Stanford women's golf is headed back to the NCAA Championships, a year after it took home its first title. Senior Mariah Stackhouse (above) has been a rock for the team, which will count on her as it moves forward. (AVI BAGLA/The Stanford Daily)

Women’s golf hopes to repeat in NCAA Championships

On paper, a lot has changed in a year for Stanford women’s golf as they prepare to enter the 2016 NCAA Championship this Friday. Just 12 months ago, the team had never finished as the best team in the nation and seemed to have, at best, an outside shot at grabbing a victory in their final event of the season.

Now, the Cardinal head to Eugene both as co-champions of one of the NCAA’s four regions and as the defenders of the national title which they ultimately secured last season. That off-chance of victory has been exchanged for the opportunity to be one of the favorites – it’s hard to imagine anyone will want to face off against the team if it successfully reaches the playoff rounds.

For a team that’s seen its fortunes altered so much in a short time, however, it’s remarkable how much has remained the same as well. The entire lineup that captured the championship is back, and the Cardinal are entering the event with largely the same mentality.

“I don’t think it feels [that] different,” said senior Mariah Stackhouse after helping the team secure the title in the NCAA regional. “I’ve been with [head coach Anne Walker] for the last four years, and she had a vision for us becoming a very, very strong and consistent team. Last year, when we won the championship, it was like ‘wow, did that really just happen?’ but it was believable just because of the leadership we have in Coach.”

The team has even added a bit of depth with the recent emergence of freshman Sierra Kersten. Though she has yet to record a marquee performance, Kersten’s consistency has helped the Cardinal greatly, and all six of her rounds have come in at +4 or better.

For now, Stackhouse and senior Lauren Kim remain the team’s leaders, bringing a huge amount of experience and consistency to help ground the team as it explores unfamiliar territory. Both Stackhouse and Kim rank amongst the top 25 golfers in the nation and will hope to add to the long list of accolades they’ve garnered throughout their careers with a second championship win.

Junior Casey Danielson and sophomore Shannon Aubert will also be crucial if the team hopes to make a run. Danielson led the team in their regionals victory with a two-under 211, while Aubert has flirted with a top ranking of her own through her consistently strong performances.

In the end, the Cardinal clearly have the talent necessary to once again be competitive for the title if they can remain at the top of their game through the duration of the tournament. According to Stackhouse, it’s this area where the team truly shines.

“I think we’re fortunate to have a team that really loves golf,” she said. “When you put that kind of attitude together it just makes for a great group who are always pushing each other. Tournament-in and tournament-out you’ll have different people stepping up and being the number one player for that event. And when you have that kind of competition within the team it sets you up nicely.”

Stanford will tee off in the NCAA Championships on Friday, May 20, with live scoring available on Golfstat.

 

Contact Andrew Mather at amather@stanford.edu.

About Andrew Mather

Andrew Mather is a senior studying symbolic systems and economics. Growing up a devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brings this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he occasionally feels a strong sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.