With one month to go to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament (SSC) the Men’s and Women’s Golf teams are playing their final tournaments to get ready for the Championship season. Both teams had tremendous successes in the previous year with the Women’s team being fourth and the Men’s team winning the first national championship in school history. These successes bring high expectations to the Saint Leo Golf teams that are playing in the strongest Conference in the country with many of the top ranked Universities.
The men’s team had an ambitious schedule all year long on the way to defending the national title. Last semester, the team travelled to Puerto Rico to play at the UIS Island Getaway against many strong teams. Another highlight was the DII National Preview that was hosted by Saint Leo University, the Central Florida Sports Commission, and Experience Kissimmee. During the month of Mar., the team had a tournament every weekend to prepare for the upcoming SSC Championship that will take place in Apr. in Melbourne, Fla.
From the key players that won the National Championship in the previous year only Ryan Gendron is still on the roster to try to win the title again. Coach Chris Greenwood had to do a lot of recruiting to build a team that has the potential to win championships. By recruiting internationally and in the area he was able to add a few more talented players to the strong team.
The goal for the team is clearly defined by qualifying for the National Championship and trying to win again. In Mar. at the Panthers Invite that took place on the same course where the SSC Championship will take place, the Lions fell short against their conference competitors from Florida Southern, Tech, Lynn, and Barry. This will motivate the Lions to show their full potential in the Championship season.
On the Women’s side the team looks stronger than ever with almost all of the key players from the previous year still being on the team. In 2016, it was surprising for the team, that is coached by Head Coach Thomas Baker, to qualify for the National Championship. After starting out slow the team moved up every day and was able to place fourth at the first championship participation.
This year, Baker added more talented athletes to the team with the two Freshman, Synne Lauritzen from Norway and Izzy Lawrence from Trinidad & Tobago. With these new additions to the already strong team, the Women’s team did great by winning the Battle of Old South Invitational and the Saint Leo Invitational. In the other tournaments in the 2016 – 2017 season, the team placed four more times among the top three teams.
“So far our season has been really successful and we’re ranked as number two in the region and number six in the nation. With one regular season tournament left and our conference championship, we hope to finish the season strong, secure our seat for regionals and qualify for nationals as a team for the second year in a row,” said Marie Coors, who is a senior with a double major in economics and accounting.
The team is confident and well prepared to face other nationally ranked competitors at the conference, regional, and national level. Throughout the season, the team was successful and competed with the best teams. The SSC Championship for the Lady Lions will be hosted by Florida Southern College during Apr. 23-25. The NCAA South Super Regional will take place May 8-11 in Elgin, S.C., and is hosted by Newberry College.
“Our main goal is certainly to return to nationals as a team. Last year, it’s been an incredible experience and each of us is determined to achieve our goal. Of course, we also have the goal to win the Conference Championship for the first time in school history. Each of us knows that it takes a lot of work and determination to achieve our goals. With one of the best regions in the country we have to focus on improving our games on a daily basis. Therefore, we have to stay in the moment and prepare for one tournament at the time with our overall goal in mind,” Coors said.
The Lady Lions will play again Apr. 10 and 11 at the Lady Panther Invitational in Melbourne, Fla. The Men’s team will play at the Argonaut Invitational in Pensacola, Fla. on the 3rd and 4th of Apr. The Lions’ Pride Newspaper will keep up to date on the last games of the Saint Leo Golf teams.