After a successful stroke play portion of the NCAA Championships and a victory over Baylor in the match play quarterfinals, the Stanford women’s golf team fell to Arizona State early Wednesday morning in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. The loss marks the first time in three years that the women did not make the NCAA finals.
Stanford held a 2-1 lead over Arizona State when the semifinal match was stopped due to darkness late Tuesday evening, behind victories from senior Casey Danielson and junior Shannon Aubert. In the remaining matches, Stanford freshman Albane Valenzuela was up 1 through 17 holes and freshman Maddie Chou was all square through 16 holes.
But come Wednesday, Arizona State senior Monica Vaughn and sophomore Linnea Strom had new fight. Vaughn birdied the 18th to take her match with Valenzuela to extra holes, and Strom pushed Chou to a 19th hole as well. Both Vaughn and Strom won on the 19th to give Arizona State the 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Danielson beat Sun Devil sophomore Sophia Zebb 3 & 2, and Aubert beat Arizona State junior Roberta Liti 4 & 3. Stanford freshman Andrea Lee fell to ASU freshman Olivia Mehaffey 2 & 1.
The Cardinal team, though, demonstrated its aptitude and its potential for the coming years. Three of Stanford’s starters – Chou, Lee and Valenzuela – are freshmen.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my players,” said head coach Anne Walker. “They played their hearts out and it could have gone either way. Hats off to ASU.
“These girls are something special,” Walker continued. “The biggest takeaway is that we played with three freshmen and they played great. We had a great season and have a lot to look forward to.”
To get to the semifinals, the Cardinal placed second in the 24-team field in the three days of stroke play, which were used as a qualifier to determine the eight teams that would participate in the match play portion. The Cardinal shot 41-over, just trailing Northwestern, who shot 33-over to take the top seed in the match play event. Stanford’s strong showing in windy and cold conditions was spearheaded by Lee and Valenzuela, once again showing off the ability of the freshmen. Lee (77-71-72) placed sixth at 4-over par and Valenzuela (77-73-73) tied for 10th at 7-over. No other team had two individuals finish in the top 10.
The medalist was Arizona State’s Vaughn (74-72-71), who went 1-under in the final round to post a 1-over score for the tournament.
In the quarterfinals, the No. 2 seeded Cardinal took down seventh-seeded Baylor 3 & 2, getting victories from Danielson (3 & 2), Valenzuela (2 & 1) and Lee (4 & 3).
Arizona State went on to beat Northwestern in the finals to win the national championship.
Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’ stanford.edu.