The Maryville College women’s golf team earlier this month made waves on the course, and the news the Scots got this week could cause a ripple effect for decades to come.
The USA South Athletic Conference on Tuesday announced it will add women’s golf to its list of sponsored sports, meaning it will host a conference championship tournament next spring for the first time.
The conference’s bylaws state that at least seven conference schools must field teams in a sport for the conference to hold a championship event. Meredith College elevated its women’s golf club to varsity status this year and competed in its first tournament last weekend.
It’s a big step that Maryville’s first-year director of golf Anthony Monaco said will open doors for his young program. The Scots made women’s golf a varsity sport in 2009. Now they have something tangible to chase at the end of the season.
“I think the USA South is probably one of the top golf conferences in the country,” Monaco said. “If we can compete against these kind of teams it gives us better recruiting ability and a chance to maybe make that NCAA Tournament and be one of the top 30 teams in the country.”
The news comes on the heels of a strong performance in a season-opening tournament in Memphis. Maryville set seven team and individual records while finishing third out of seven teams at the Rhodes College Fall Invitational.
The team records included single-round score and 36-hole score. Seymour graduate Katelyn Witucki shot a school-record 77 in the first round, and sophomore Hannah Doherty, a William Blount graduate, broke that record by shooting 76 in the second round. Witucki followed with a 78 in the second round to break the individual 36-hole record by nine strokes.
The success was nice, but Monaco said it could have been better because he believed they left some shots on the course. He gave credit to the golfers and their work ethic while he tries to establish a culture. For the first time there is an established practice schedule. Lifting weights is part of their training for the first time, too.
“We had a long break before the first tournament,” Monaco said. “I gave them one required day off or two days off they needed each week. Other than that they were on the course trying to get better. The good thing is they want to learn, and they listen. Those are the best things they do. Right now they’re starting to put it into their golf games.”
The Scots’ men’s soccer team had convincing performances Friday and Saturday during road conference games. Maryville opened with a 2-0 win over Mary Baldwin and followed up with a 4-0 win over Averett.
That the Scots got two clean sheets stood out most to coach Pepe Fernandez. In fact, they have limited opponents to three goals in six games.
They’ll have a chance to add three more points Friday when they play host to Pfeiffer, which has shipped seven goals and has not scored itself in two conference games. It’s a mismatch on paper, but Fernandez said he will spend plenty of time reminding the Scots how important it is not to relax.
“The difference between the top four teams over the past few years has been anywhere between 1-3 points,” Fernandez said. “You have to get points every outing. One of our goals is to host (the conference tournament) again. You can’t drop very many points and have the opportunity to host in the first round and the final four.”
Strong performance needed
The women’s soccer team (4-3) maintained its high level of play with a 2-0 win at Transylvania on Tuesday night thanks to a brace from senior midfielder Hannah Clothier. The Scots lost to Transylvania last year, and a switch to a 3-4-3 formation helped them build a direct attack that led to a 14-6 shot advantage.
“We played the best we played all year long,” Fernandez said. “We possessed the ball well on turf. It was our third game in four days. It was really a set-up for us not to do well, and we played very, very well.”
Next up is a home game against Emory University on Saturday afternoon. Emory is traditionally one of the best programs in the South, and this year is no different. The Eagles (3-1) received votes in this week’s United Soccer Coaches Division III national rankings.
“They’ll be one of the top 10 teams most talented teams in the country like they always are, no doubt about it,” Fernandez said. “They’ve played an unbelievably tough schedule. They’ll have really good athletes at every position and eight or nine good athletes coming off the bench. It’ll be a really good test for us.”
Hester-Taylor maintains conference lead
Despite her first poor attacking performance, senior middle blocker Dejane Hester-Taylor remains on top of the USA South Athletic Conference in terms of attack percentage. Hester-Taylor’s mark of .386 is ahead of Pfeiffer’s Mattie Burris by eight points.
Hester-Taylor has hit at least .250 in 10 of 11 matches. The outlier came in a four-set loss to William Peace on Saturday. She had two kills and six errors on 19 attempts to finish at -.211. Earlier Saturday in a three-set win over Salem she had 13 kills and one error on 17 attempts for a .706 mark.
The Scots (6-5) went 1-2 at the Guilford Invitational over the weekend and swept Johnson University in a home match on Tuesday. They’re back in action Saturday with a pair of matches at Averett.