Women’s Golf: Wildcats within reach of NCAA final berth after quarterfinal victory


Ben Pope/Daily Senior Staffer

Kacie Komoto watches her shot from the fairway. The senior and the Wildcats will resume their NCAA Championships semifinal Wednesday morning.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Women’s Golf

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — Northwestern entered unprecedented territory on Tuesday, reaching the semifinals of the National Championships before foul weather and darkness cut the round short.

After Tuesday night, the Wildcats trailed USC in four of the five matches, but were within a stroke in three of those four. At least four holes remain in each contest.

“We really have been playing well,” coach Emily Fletcher said. “We just need to get some putts to drop. Shutting it down tonight and coming out tomorrow morning, I have a good feeling about it. I think we’re about 15 minutes from flipping those scores from red to purple.”

NU, which won the stroke play portion of the competition, opened play Tuesday morning in the quarterfinals against Kent State, which finished eighth in stroke play. The Cats took three of the five matches in the morning to move on to the afternoon, with senior Kacie Komoto sealing the match with a 2-up victory over Michaela Finn.

Komoto’s match was close the whole way, as she never took more than a two-hole lead over her opponent, but she maintained her composure and closed strong by winning the final hole.

“I can’t say that one point of my game was better than the other,” Komoto said after the completion of stroke play Monday. “Overall, I just had a lot of patience out there, and we all did really. Even though we made mistakes, we held strong and hung in there.”

Junior Sarah Cho got NU off to a hot start, winning her match 6-and-5 to give the Cats an early edge. Cho won holes 10 through 13 to finish off the rout.

That quarterfinal showing set up a matchup with the Trojans, who took down Ohio State in the morning quarterfinals. The two teams have shared a course in stroke play twice this year, with USC winning one event and NU taking the other.

The match has been back-and-forth the entire way, with no single-match lead growing larger than two holes at any point. In three of the matches, both golfers held the lead at various points in the afternoon.

“They’ve just had great energy,” Fletcher said. “They’ve really enjoyed the moment. Part of their success is that they saw it as an opportunity and embraced it.”

Sophomore Janet Mao had the shot of the day, with a 170-yard eagle on the fourth to cut her deficit to one, but she is one of two NU golfers to not hold a lead against the Trojans.

Down just one hole with seven to go, Mao has plenty of time to stage a comeback. Fellow sophomore Stephanie Lau is in a similar spot, as she trails by the same margin with eight holes remaining.

Things are dicier for Komoto and junior Hannah Kim, however. Komoto is down two with five remaining, and Kim trails by one with four holes remaining.

Cho has the lone lead for NU, up one with three holes to go and in prime position to secure the first point for the Cats.

“We’ve just got to turn the page to the next day of match play,” Fletcher said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate with a National Championship.”

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