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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s golf continues unprecedented success

<rleton women’s golf has had an amazing start to their 2018-2019 campaign. They are perfect on the season, competing in four tournaments and winning all four. Six student-athletes have a scoring average below 6-over par and a different player has led them in scoring each tournament. Their balanced roster has led to strong and consistent performances week after week. Their success this year is a little unprecedented, after last year came to a close with a sixth place finish at nationals, their head coach Eric Sieger resigned. A five-time MIAC Coach of the Year, Sieger had spent 17 seasons at the helm of the Carleton program. Once Sieger left, the search for a new head coach ensued. After a long search, Molly Erickson, a former St. Olaf golf standout, took Sieger’s place. Since then, the Knights have continued where they left off, not having lost a regular season tournament since April of 2017. While their success flies under the radar on campus, other women’s golf teams continue to look up at the Knights on the leaderboards across Minnesota.

According to Abby Euyang ’21, the Knights’ talented and deep team is a large part of their success so far this season. “We have some really talented players that are all maximizing our potential at the same time,” she said. “A big part of our success is how deep we are—having six players that can all play #1 is really rare. It takes off some of the pressure, because if you aren’t having the best day, you know your teammates have your back.”

Not only are the Knights talented, but their great work ethic helps sustain success on the course. Ayumi Sakamoto ’19, one of the team’s senior leaders, thinks that because they practice effectively, it gives them the confidence to play well week in and week out. “I think that our team has been able to become as successful as it has because each and every one of us have worked hard to practice efficiently,” Sakamoto said. “I think that our success can also be attributed to having confidence in ourselves and feeling more relaxed on the course.” First-year Kristin Miyagi also praised her teammates in saying that she is “blessed” to be part of an amazing team with great golfers and great people. Miyagi claimed that one of the reasons they are so successful is that “each teammate has a nice disposition in regards to the game. As a team, we focus on the process instead of only the result.”

Each golfer also praised Coach Erickson, their new head coach, and asserted that she has been an integral part of their success so far this season. “Molly is so wonderful,” Euyang said. “It’s tough because golf is such a short season, but somehow she has managed to become more than just our coach in the two months we’ve known her. She’s such an integral part of the team, our really good friend, and someone we can all look to for support.” Erickson was also praised for her help on the course during tournaments, helping in game strategy. “She is an awesome player herself which helps with our course strategy for particularly challenging holes,” Miyagi said. “I also enjoy her coaching philosophy and sense of humor.” After three years coached by Sieger, Sakamoto praised Erickson for helping them reach goals they had not thought possible. “Under her guidance, we have achieved things that we never have before and broken a handful of records,” Sakamoto said. “We all love having her as our coach and could not have asked for anyone better.”

Because some Carleton sports teams have not achieved the amount of success of women’s golf, Sakamoto, in particular, had some advice for other teams looking to get used to winning. “I guess I would say that encouraging one another and pushing through tough times together is important in solidifying the bond you have with your teammates, which inevitably leads to more success on the course/courts/field/etc.,” she said. “I also think that it is important to play your respective sport purely because you love it- winning will come eventually!”

The Knights’ overall team goal this year would be to win nationals. According to Euyang, since they placed sixth place last year and are even better this year with the addition of Miyagi, the sky is the limit. “I think the whole team has had their eye on winning the Nationals,” Euyang said. “We have come close in the past couple years, but this spring should be special: we are returning the five players who travelled last year and have Kristin, the rock-solid stud freshman. Experience and hunger win championships, I feel like that’s something Tiger might say.” But first, in order to receive an automatic bid to nationals, they must win the MIAC conference championship that starts this upcoming Saturday. Not only do other teams expect them to win, but they expect to win themselves. That is what makes this team so special.

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