14-stroke comeback leads women’s golf to victory

Women’s golf won the Vassar Invitational last weekend to begin its spring season. At Casper Kill Golf Club in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the women overcame a 14-stroke deficit on Day Two to claim the victory, an unprecedented comeback for the program.

Returning from a productive spring break training trip in Orlando, Fla., the Ephs were tested by gusting winds on the par-72 course. Nonetheless, the women battled through first-tee jitters and difficult greens to shoot a respectable score of 331 in  Saturdays round. 

Liz Gudas ’18 posted an 80, the Ephs’ top score on the day. Cordelia Chan ’19 followed closely with an 81, rebounding nicely after shooting 44 on the front nine.

Phoebe Mattana ’18 and co-captains Tracey Kim ’17 and Sophie Kitchen ’17 each shot an 85. Isabella Wang ’19 played as an individual and also fired an 85. 

After Day One, the Ephs sat in fourth, trailing first-place NYU by 14 strokes. 

Many of the Ephs made quality shots throughout the day but experienced bad luck around the greens. 

“Our ball striking was pretty solid on Saturday, but we were far from our best on and around the greens,” Head Coach Tomas Adalsteinsson said. “We were not adapting to the conditions quickly enough to capitalize on our chances.”

On Sunday, the women shot a combined score of 300, just two strokes off their team record. After the women had finished playing, they had to wait to see if their score was good enough to win. 

The Ephs were 16 strokes clear of the field on Day Two. Their two-day total finished at 631, two strokes better than second-place NYU. Amherst rounded out the top three with a total of 642. 

Chan led the way on Sunday with a 73. Her total of 154 put her in a tie for second in the individual standings. Chan posted back-to-back birdies on the long par-5 10th and the uphill par-4 11th to shoot +1. 

Mattana and Gudas shot 74 and 77 respectively, placing sixth and T-seventh, respectfully. Kim struggled on the greens on Sunday but notched three birdies to shoot 76. After hitting her irons awry on Day One, she made an impressive 18 greens on Day Two.

Kitchen did not score for the Ephs but improved by six strokes to a 79. 

“[After Day One], we knew that we were not far from being able to play some of our best golf,” Adalsteinsson said. “We were the last team to leave the course on Saturday night, after practicing for a little bit after the round, and we were the first team to arrive for warmups on Sunday morning.

“We identified what we need to do better, and with a strong game plan and great determination, the team played one of its best rounds ever. The women stayed confident in their ability and were focused on playing their best golf one shot at a time.

“I am immensely proud of the team’s resilience and positivity last weekend.”

“Everyone was focused on learning from her mistakes and looking forward to a chance to show what our team could really do,” Kim said. “There was an air of energy and motivation that was really inspiring.”

The women won the NESCAC Championship in the fall and will look to continue their success in the spring. Gudas and Mattana were First Team All-NESCAC selections in the fall season, and Chan and Kitchen were Second Team picks. In addition, Gudas was voted by coaches as NESCAC Player of the Year.

The Ephs will return to the links this weekend at the Jack Leaman Inviational hosted by Amherst. The tournament will begin on Saturday and continue the following day.

The following week, the women host the Williams Spring Invitational on April 22-23. Strong performances in the coming weeks could seal a NCAA bid for the team, Adalsteinsson said.

Last year, the women placed fifth at NCAAs. This year, the four-day tournament will be played May 9-12 at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas.

“Our goal is to play our best game each tournament, each round and each shot,” Adalsteinsson said. “We’ll see where that will get us.”