The second spring season of Valparaiso University women’s golf is set to commence, and after the fall season the Crusaders have already shown considerable improvement over their inaugural year.
Head coach Mike Higdon returns four sophomores from the initial team, and has added five talented freshmen as the Crusaders look move up the Horizon League ranks. During the fall the Brown and Gold posted a runner-up finish at the Green Bay Invitational, and placed in the middle of the pack in nearly every other event.
Sophomores Annie Nolan and Jessica O’Brien lead the returnees into season two. Nolan shaved nearly 10 strokes per round off of her freshman scoring average during the fall campaign, sharing the team’s lowest fall average at 81.6. She carded a collegiate-low round of 77 this fall as well, and won the Green Bay Invitational individual title. O’Brien was second on the team in scoring as a freshman. She played in just one event during the fall season though, but averaged nearly five strokes per round less than she did as a rookie.
Sophomores Kathleen Cooper and Sarah Al-Momar also return for the Brown and Gold this year. Neither player saw action during the fall season, but both were key to the Crusaders’ inaugural campaign. Both competed in every round as a freshman helping to start the program.
Freshmen played an integral role in Valpo’s success during the fall schedule, and will be relied upon heavily this spring as the Crusaders look for continued improvement. Michelle Kleckner shared the team’s lowest stroke average with Nolan at 81.6 during the five fall events, and posted a pair of top-10 finishes. She shot a season-low 77 twice and finished with a 36-hole best of 156.
Kelly Voigt and Brianna Davy both contributed a great deal to the Valpo lineup as well. Voigt finished the fall with an 81.9 stroke average over nine rounds, including a season-best 77 in a triangular match with Green Bay and Chicago State. Davy posted the best 36-hole tournament in program history at 154 while also firing a school-record round of 76 at the Butler Fall Invitational.
Erika Pfaender was the final Crusader to play in every event in the fall. She averaged 83.6 for her nine rounds, carding a season-best 79 at the Dayton Fall Invitational, the final event of the fall. Alyssa Cameron also got her first taste of collegiate golf at the Chicago State Cougar Classic, playing a pair of rounds in the tournament as an individual.
The Crusaders will take to the links five times this fall, beginning Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Murray State Spring Invitational. Valpo then will take a month off before competing at the Butler Spring Invitational. Trips to the Loyola Invitational and the Falcon Invitational at Bowling Green round out the spring campaign before the Brown and Gold head to the Horizon League Championships. This year’s event will take place April 22-24 at Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
A much more experienced Valparaiso roster will take to the course during the spring of 2011, looking to continue showing significant improvement in just year two of the program’s history. With nine talented players, all freshmen and sophomores, on the roster, hopes are high for the Crusaders to continue to climb in the Horizon League over the next few years.