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The Carletonian

Women’s Golf continues to dominate the MIAC

<ur tournaments, four championships. Two MIAC women’s golfer-of-the-week awards. Currently ranked number one in the Midwest region for D3 Women’s Golf. Not a bad start to the season for the Carleton’s Women’s Golf squad.

“We expect to play at a high level, right now, we are really talented and really deep. If we focus our energy and attention on the right things we are going to be successful,” said Women’s Golf Head Coach Eric Sieger.
In collegiate Women’s Golf, teams compete for their conference championship in the fall and then the top teams go on to compete for a national championship in the spring. Last fall, the Knights lost the conference championship by two strokes but were one of two teams selected for an automatic bid to national championships.

After finishing in 7th place at nationals last spring, the Knights are looking to carry that momentum forward into this season.

“Really what we have been able to do this year is continue that momentum from last spring where we were playing at a really high level, where we were really focused, really intent on what we were trying to do out there,” said Sieger.

Seven of the ten golfers on the team are underclassmen. With a fairly young but extremely talented roster, the Knights have relied on leadership from some of their top players this season. Sieger cited team captain and lone senior, Tory Peterson, as a reason for the team’s success this season. “One thing that has helped is that we have really good leadership. Tory has been with the program all four years and she knows what my expectations are and she has really been able to fold the newcomers into the program,” said Sieger.

Leadership has been strong for the team, but most importantly, the performances from top golfers has carried the squad. According to Sieger, “the catalyst this year has been our 3 top returners, Alyssa Akiyama, Ayumi Sakamoto, Ziyi Wong. Those three went to nationals last year. They were our three top players last year and they have really been a rock for us the entire fall.”

Sakamoto ’20 said that the goals for the team this year are similar to past years. “Our goal is to continue playing focused and smart golf and to learn from our mistakes and successes as we prepare for conference,” Sakamoto said. In their most recent tournament, Sakamoto tied for third place overall with Wang. Wang and sophomore standout Alyssa Akiyama have both earned MIAC golfer-of-the-week awards for their performances on the green this season.

Although Carleton Women’s Golf has in recent memory consistently had a strong squad, the team certainly has collected more positive results in the past few seasons than ever before.

“It has taken about seven or eight years to get us to the point where we are relevant nationally,” Sieger said. “I have grown as a coach and a recruiter. We have a lot of talent on the roster. The kids come in and technically they are fine, it is mostly the mental stuff we work on. We also rely on statistics quite a bit to drive our practice time so they are working on things that we need to work on.”

The Knights’ recent successes on the green are only part of the reason they are able to attract top recruits to the program. “We are very fortunate as coaches at Carleton that we have a really top quality, world-class product to sell to potential student athletes, that I can go out and watch kids play and say, ‘you are going to get one of the best educations in the world.’ Immediately, that puts us at a different level than a lot of the other teams in the conference and that allows us to talk with kids that other schools in the MIAC just can’t,” said Sieger.

With top players performing at their best and senior leadership stepping up to connect the young squad, hopes are high for the Knights as they look to bring home the conference championship and consequently a national tournament bid on October 7th. Sieger said, “our goal is to compete well and prepare well and if we do those things I think we will have a shot at the national championship in the end. But really the treasure is the experiences, it’s the bus rides, the hanging out after practice, the goofing off. Those are what you take away from these experiences and that’s what makes it so awesome and so fun. We are talented and the goal is to get to those points, but the main goal is to enjoy them and to make those memories. The team wants to do well not because there is glory at the end, but because the trying is the great stuff, pushing yourself and seeing where you can go and what you can do. That chase is what invigorates these athletes.”

For Sakamoto, the season has indeed been fun so far and things are only looking up with the conference championship fast approaching. “We have been having a solid season and really enjoying the competition. I think my favorite part of the season is getting to know the team better and hanging out with them off the course. They’re a wonderful group of golfers and individuals and I’m thankful to be their teammate,” said Sakamoto.

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