By Rick Henneman
The Youngstown State University women’s golf team could not have asked for a better way to end the week leading up to the Horizon League tournament. The YSU women won last Friday’s Pine Hills Shootout with Penguins’ golfers taking the top two spots.
Freshman Reva Morris took first place while sophomore Christina Cooper finished four strokes behind in second. Amongst the teams competing in the Shootout was Horizon League rival Cleveland State University who finished third.
“It was great to build some momentum going in,” YSU head coach Nate Miklos said. “We went out there and put together a very solid round. We had four solid scores and that’s what we need every day at the tournament to reach our goal.”
One of the biggest stories surrounding the Penguins this season and certainly this week leading up to the championship has been the play of Morris.
Morris has been leading YSU with consistent scores in the mid-70s over the last few months but wasn’t able to grab an individual victory until this past week.
“It was huge for me being my first collegiate win,” Morris said about the win. “This team provides for each other and we have our coaches behind us too.”
The preseason polls ranked YSU second in the Horizon League and Miklos challenged the Penguins on day one to get better at something every day. He reflected on his team’s form with just a few days left in the season.
“We made a lot of progress over the spring,” he said. “We’ve gotten better at a lot of little things and it is starting to show in the way we are playing.”
The only team ranked ahead of YSU at the beginning of the season was Oakland University. The Golden Grizzlies were part of the memorable finish to the Penguins’ 2015 Horizon League championship winning season. YSU was just one shot ahead of Oakland through nine holes of the Horizon League tournament finals that year. Miklos said that he could see a similar situation in this year’s tournament.
“This year I think there are four teams; Oakland, Northern Kentucky, Cleveland State and us,” Miklos said. “We have teams that are strong enough to go out there and get it done. I really like the way we are playing – we are peaking at the right time. I feel pretty confident that we can go out there and take care of things to get back to where we want to be.”
While the youth on YSU’s team seemed to shine during the regular season, the experience that the older leaders bring to the team will be crucial to the Penguin’s success this weekend. Players like senior Mia Barchetti and junior Courtney Shutt have found themselves towards the top of leaderboards many times this year and throughout their college career.
“They have been really awesome,” Morris said. “They have been super supportive of everything I do and they are great at bringing the whole team together and lifting us all up. The whole team has been supportive of each other.”
Golf is a sport that is often all about confidence in one’s own game and Morris did not shy away from saying how confident she and her teammates are about this weekend.
“We never once thought about not winning,” she said. “We are very excited to compete and we love the competition. We are going to go out there and play our best; we are going to put all of our effort into every single shot and every single swing.”
First-round play of the Horizon League tournament will begin this Sunday at the Las Colinas Golf Course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. The competition will wrap up on Tuesday.