Despite a key loss to the starting lineup, the Penn State women’s golf team captured second place at the Yale Intercollegiate over the weekend.
On the shoulders of Top 10 finishes by junior Christina Vosters and sophomore Elyse Archambault, the Nittany Lions held off third-place Harvard by one stroke, finishing with an overall team score of 885 (298-291-296).
The team entered Sunday’s final round 16 strokes behind the tournament’s eventual winner, Nova Southeastern, which shot a final team score of 859 (292-281-286). Even though the Sharks had a strong hold on first place after two days, Vosters said that the Lions continued to shoot for first place on Sunday.
“Any day on a golf course, something drastic can happen,” Vosters said. “You just kind of go in playing like something extraordinary might happen.”
Although the Sharks did not slip up, the team’s mentality helped to secure second place. If the Lions weren’t focused, Harvard was in position to jump ahead of them; they were only three strokes behind when the final round began.
Even though the team didn’t win the tournament, head coach Denise St. Pierre said she was still very happy with her team.
“I believe they played extremely well, it’s just that there was another team that played even better; that’s how it goes sometimes,” St. Pierre said. “But I feel pretty good that we beat 14 other teams…It’s always great to win [a tournament], but I feel like we did win; we beat a lot of people.”
A major obstacle in the team’s way was the course itself. Named the Best Campus Course by Golfweek and the 65th-toughest course in America by Golf Digest, The Course at Yale presented many challenges to a team that had no prior experience on the greens in New Haven, Conn.
“There were a lot of shots that were blind; you were hitting onto greens that you couldn’t see, so I think that always makes it more difficult,” Vosters said. “The greens are enormous, and they’re very undulated...putting was by far the most difficult part of this course.”
St. Pierre credited her team’s ability to golf well on the course to its practice rounds before the tournament began.
“We really got after our practice round. I told them, ‘This is the day we work the hardest. The other days we play’,” St. Pierre said. “They did a great job with the practice round, and we did a great job with mapping out our game plan the night before.”
Vosters and Archambault overcame the troublesome course and were major contributors for the team. Tied for sixth place, Vosters’ final score of 219 (+3) put her in the Top 10 for the second consecutive tournament. Archambault was two strokes behind, tied for ninth place. Just outside of the Top 10, senior Emily Ransome tied for 11th place with a 222 (+6).
Archambault said she was happy with the outcome of her rounds over the weekend.
“That was one of my goals, to finish Top 10,” Archambault said. “[Sunday’s final round] was not-so-good; I wish I would’ve played better and got a Top 5, but you can’t always do whatever you want. So I had a good tournament, I’m happy about how I played and I had a good time.”
Those individual performances were necessary for the Lions when junior Ellen Ceresko withdrew from the tournament midway through her final round. Ceresko, who was contending for a Top 10 finish herself, fainted during the eighth hole and could not continue competing.
Ceresko said an infection in her toe most likely reached her bloodstream and caused her to pass out.
“I just kind of felt weak coming into the round, and it caught up to me and I just collapsed,” she said. “A little fluke, but I’m alright now.”
Vosters said she was initially concerned when she heard that Ceresko had passed out, but went right back to work when she heard Ceresko would be fine.
“I was a little stressed for a while, because I didn’t know what was wrong with her,” Vosters said. “We are teammates, and she and I are very close friends. My coach came back and saw me, and reassured me that she was going to be okay. I was worried, of course, but I did have a job to do.”
St. Pierre said that she isn’t expecting Ceresko to miss any playing time. Ceresko agreed, saying she received antibiotics and that she should be fine for the team’s upcoming events.
The next time the Lions try to continue their early-season success, it will be at home, when they host the Nittany Lion Invitational. The tournament will be played from this Friday through Sunday.