Women’s Golf: Northwestern falls in national championship match


Daily file photo by Ben Pope

Janet Mao thinks through a putt. The sophomore and the Wildcats fell to Arizona State in the National Championship match Wednesday.

Cole Paxton, Sports Editor

Women’s Golf

The Wildcats will have to wait for their first National Championship.

Northwestern fell to Arizona State 3-1 in the final match Wednesday afternoon, failing to make the same late comeback that sent the Cats to the championship contest earlier in the day.

Linnea Strom secured the win for the Sun Devils with a birdie putt on the 15th hole to defeat sophomore Stephanie Lau and earn the clinching point.

The Cats began the match slowly, dropping the first hole in each of the first three pairings. Junior Sarah Cho in particular struggled, losing four of her first five holes and being 5-down at one point. Sophomore Janet Mao and Lau also found trouble, rarely leading on the front nine.

Junior Hannah Kim, NU’s top player, played well against individual champion Monica Vaughn, and senior Kacie Komoto played a competitive, back-and-forth match. No other golfer was able to flip their contest, however, as Cho never cut into her deficit and Lau and Mao both fell multiple holes behind on the back nine.

Cho fell 4-and-3 to give Arizona State its first point, and Mao lost four straight holes in one stretch, succumbing shortly after Cho to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead. Komoto closed strongly and Kim played into extra holes, but Lau was unable to come from behind.

Despite the loss, NU had a remarkable and historic week at Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club, less than 60 miles from Evanston in Sugar Grove, Illinois. NU led wire-to-wire during the three rounds of stroke play competition, then defeated Kent State in the quarterfinals.

That advanced the Cats to a Tuesday afternoon semifinal against USC, but the match was postponed due to inclement weather and eventually suspended because of darkness.

The Trojans led in four of five matches at the conclusion of Tuesday’s action, and though NU secured the first two points, it trailed in the remaining three contests in the final holes. Mao, however, won two of the final three holes to continue her match. She then won the first extra hole to send the Cats to the final.

This season marked the most successful in a string of recent ones for NU, which came one stroke short of the match play last year.

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