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The Carletonian

Women’s Golf finishes regular season undefeated

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-55491c29-a281-ade0-778c-fb44b8e974c5">This year, Women’s Golf celebrated an undefeated regular season. In this article, head coach Eric Sieger and athlete Kelsey Sullivan ’20 reflect on their favorite moments from the season and set goals for the upcoming year.

Overall, Sieger is extremely proud of his student-athletes’ success on the course. “It was an amazing season,” he said. “I mean to go undefeated in the regular season is pretty uncommon. We led the nation in victories. We had seven wins in major invitationals, which is tournaments with more than five teams. Just to see the women perform at such a high level for the entire season was very gratifying and humbling.”

Although there were many great moments and highlights, Sieger’s favorite moment from the season was winning the MIAC Conference championship. “Last year we came really close and didn’t win and so that really hurt,” he said. “I think that really fueled us this season and to see us come out—really the tournament was over after the first two rounds. It’s a three round tournament, but we were so far ahead going into the last day, so it was just so cool to see the players’ reactions after we won. That was very cool.”

One of Sullivan’s favorite moments were the team bonding activities with her teammates. “I’m not sure that I had one favorite moment, but I loved just the everyday situations like singing along to the radio in the car on the way to practice,” she said. “I guess specific moments wise, I really enjoyed the day on our spring break trip when we went to the beach—I think that was a really good bonding time for the team.” While she and her teammates had unparalleled success on the course, she also enjoyed becoming closer to her teammates. “I think the biggest takeaway for the season for me is the memories I have with my teammates,” she said. “We are all really close, and going undefeated during the regular season was made even more special because we are such a close-knit group. I think we also had an amazing season on the golf course, and I think that that built our confidence in a lot of ways, which is really important.”

Sieger echoed her statement that one of the reasons for success on the course was the team dynamic that was lead by co-captains Ayumi Sakamoto ’19 and Tory Peterson ’18. Reflecting on the team dynamic, he said. “I think that the women did a really good job of meshing together and being really supportive of everybody on the team and even those that don’t go to nationals and aren’t all-conference, they’re as integral a part of our team as the people that are winning all the awards. So I think just like any group, we have our challenges. We’re a little bit like a family that we’re together a lot on the road. So it’s close quarters and just like a family, there’s conflict sometimes, but I think that this group more than any that I’ve had does a really good job of managing some of that conflict and just being honest and open with each other. I feel in a lot of ways like that’s more important than the golf and the accolades and stuff because those are life skills that they can use after golf.”

Next year, Sullivan individually wants to improve her score and put less pressure on herself when she’s playing in tournaments. However as a team, she said, “we want to improve our result at nationals to get into the top 4 because those are the teams that are recognized with trophies at the end of the tournament. I think we also want to continue our strong group dynamic.”

Sieger hopes next year that he and his student-athletes can focus on maintaining positivity on the course, especially when competing. “I think one thing that we learned as a group at nationals is that we really have to try to maintain positivity on the course,” he said. “So that’s something I think that I’ve always prided myself on as a coach, but I can always do better, and the players can do better and not just with themselves, but encouraging one another too. Golf is just so mental and so it’s hard to not get down on yourself. I think that’s one thing that we’ll really work on next year. It’s just maintaining generally speaking, positivity on the course.”

Looking ahead to next season, Sieger reflected philosophically, “A new year always brings new challenges because people leave and new people come in,” he said. “So how do you bring those new people into the fold? In a short amount of time, how do you ingrain them into the culture of the team? So there’s always that challenge, which is honestly one of the fun parts of coaching, because there’s always new challenges and new people to integrate into the program. From a competitive standpoint, obviously we’re at a really high level, so how can we not only maintain that but get a little better. As a coach, when you’re at such a high level, that’s a really hard thing to do—to take that next step. For us, that next step is probably contending for national title.”

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