Women’s golf looks for redemption after falling short

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first_imgOf the thousands of strokes taken during the season across the country in practice and tournaments, one stroke impacted the USC women’s golf team more than any other. That one stroke was the only difference between the Women of Troy and Purdue at the NCAA Championships in May.  That one stroke made Purdue the national champions and kept USC from capturing its second championship in three years.That single stroke gives the Women of Troy all the motivation they need for this season.“It’s something you have to draw from” said USC coach Andrea Gaston. “The returning players will certainly remember what that felt like, and that’ll be passed on to the four new players.”This season, the team has had to replace four of seven team members — the biggest turnover in Gaston’s 14-year career.  Departing with Jennifer Song, Belen Mozo, Stefanie Endstrasser and Caroline Kim are six All-American awards, 14 years of experience, two NCAA Championship rings and numerous school records. It’s up to senior Lizette Salas, junior Inah Park, sophomore Cyna Rodriguez and four new teammates to replace them without missing a beat.Salas, the teams only senior and a three-time All-American, is the only remaining member of the 2008 national championship team. She earned five top-five finishes last season, including two victories and a second-place finish at the NCAA Central Regional tournament, and finished 27th at the NCAA championship.Park looks to continue the improvement she made between her freshman and sophomore seasons. She had a career best 15th-place finish last season, before tying for 86th at the NCAA Championship. Rodriguez imprved as well, as she had a top-10 finish and tied for 33rd at the NCAA Championship in her freshman season.  Both players will have to take leadership roles for a very young team to have a successful season.Immediately stepping in to replace some of those lost All-American awards is Pepperdine transfer Lisa McCloskey, a two-time All-American. McClosky kept busy after her 61st place finish at the NCAA Championship, reaching the final of the Women’s North and South Amateur Championships and making the cut at the 2010 U.S. Open, where she tied for 62nd.Of the three incoming freshman, Sophia Popov has had the most notable offseason. Fresh off a victory at the International European Ladies Amateur Championship at the end of July, Popov is expected to immediately compete for a roster spot.The experience the team has gained from competing throughout the offseason will prove helpful for a team that has only four players with NCAA experience.“I know we’re going to have a really strong team, because the girls are having really strong summers and coach always picks the best,” Salas said.As the players look to the season ahead, they said will remember the lesson they learned from that missed stroke in May.“It’ll be a season about paying attention to details,” Gaston said.last_img

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