Despite a strong start, the Stanford women’s golf team finished their fall season with a runner-up placement, falling 3-2 to USC at the East Lake Cup. The nationally televised championship match marks the end of the fall golf season for the NCAA women’s golf.
The tournament is limited to semifinalists from the previous year’s NCAA Championships. This was the third consecutive year that Stanford has competed.
The Cardinal got off to a good start, capturing the stroke play competition on Monday with a best four out of five score of 3-over 291. This put them six strokes ahead of USC, in second place.
Senior Shannon Aubert and sophomore Andrea Lee tied for second, ending with 1-under 71. They were followed by sophomores Albane Valenzuela, who placed seventh, and Ziyi Wang, who placed ninth.
On her playing, Aubert said this: “I figured I wasn’t doing too bad, because all of a sudden the cameras were coming.”
Anne Walker, the Margot and Mitch Milias director of women’s golf, was hoping to “try to break the curse of the No. 1 seed in match play” during their match against Arizona State the next day.
She and the team succeeded, taking a 3-2 semifinal victory against Arizona State on Tuesday to send them on to the finals, where they would take on USC.
This gave the team some closure from its 3-2 loss to Arizona in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships last year. “It stung a lot in May,” Walker said. “To get a little revenge is good.”
In the beginning, it didn’t look like revenge was possible, with the Cardinal losing the first match and trailing in two others. Aubert made a par save at the 18th hole to beat Sophia Zeeb by 1, beginning the Cardinal comeback.
Ziyi Wang followed suit, pulling ahead for a four and three win after losing the first two holes against Madison Kerley.
Three-time winner this season, Lee fought a close match with Lannea Strom but ended up losing by one, putting the overall score to 2-2.
Albane Valenzuela won on a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Roberta Liti on national television. “It was great to be able to make that last putt for my team,” said Valenzuela.
Though they “were a little bit better today than we were yesterday, just in the way they handled themselves and their mental attitude,” Walker said of Wednesday’s play, “We came up against some stiff competition here, and USC played really well on the back nine.”
Valenzuela and Wang both had decisive wins, winning four and two and five and four, respectively. Thought the start boded well, Aubert lost one-down to Robynn Ree, and Lee lost to Muni He, the latter winning four straight holes with three birdies and an eagle.
An attempt to rally by Madie Chou fell short, and Divya Manthena won, four and two, finalizing the Trojan’s 3-2 victory.
Nevertheless, Walker was positive about the experience, saying, “we’re thrilled that we’ve been here for three straight years and surrounded by great teams. It’s a nice way to end your fall season.”
The team gets a break until the spring season starts on February 11th, at the Northrup Grumann Challenge in Palos Verdes, California.