Williamstown, MA–The new school year always brings joy and excitement of the wonderful possibilities Williams College can bring. Perhaps this excitement is wrapped in the long-awaited "senior dingle," or the chance to finally take a class from the popular professor. For 10 of us, however, this excitement comes with the start of a new golf season, a chance to test our potential on the golf course.
The Ephs finished the Spring season on a bittersweet note. Seniors Cordelia Chan and Isabella Wang along with sophomore Holly Davenport and alumni, Liz Gudas and Phoebe Mattana competed at the NCAA Tournament down in Howey-in-the Hills, FL. After four long and hard-fought days, the squad finished tied for first with Clarment Mudd Scripps. The two-hole playoff that followed was where the Ephs showed what makes the Williams women's golf team truly great. Despite coming one stroke short of claiming the title, the Ephs never faltered in their confidence in each other. Even the players that were eagerly waiting on campus forewent studying for finals to cheer their teammates. The tournament was a good testament to the strength of the team's bond.
"We of course lost a big chunk of our team last year but I think our team is going to be stronger than ever! Our finish at NCAA's, I think, really proved to everyone that we are capable of going the distance," co-captain Cordelia Chan said.
Following the completion of the national tournament and in preparation for the upcoming fall season, the Women's Coaches Golf Association released their preseason rankings based on their internal poll. The Ephs share the number one spot with defending national champions, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. George Fox University in Washington state is third and New York University is fourth. Of the top 25 teams in the ranking, the Ephs will face off with number four NYU, number 7 Carnegie Mellon University, number 21 Middlebury, and number 22 Amherst College.
Looking forward, the Ephs will have a competitive season ahead and the team lost valuable players in Maddy Abrahams, Liz Gudas, and Phoebe Mattana. The team also added the talenst of freshman Joanna Kim and Olivia White. Gudas, along with Chan, was named to the All-East team at the NCAA Tournament and Mattana had been named to the All-American Second Team in her sophomore year.
"From senior class to our first-years, we have great talent on our team this year. Similar to previous years our strength is the depth of our roster, and we have a great balance of experience, energy, and eagerness to improve. I've been very impressed with the mindset of each player coming into this year, how focused they are on playing for each other, and pushing one another to get better every day. Like every year, we have work to do, and we're excited to do it together," head coach Tomas Adalsteinsson said.
Freshman Olivia White hails from Los Angeles, Calif. and had a decorated junior golf career. She was a top performer on the AJGA, SCPGA, Toyota Tour Cup, and CIF junior circuits. She had a number of under par rounds and was even named to AJGA's 2017 Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team. White is accompanied by classmate Joanna Kim who calls Minneapolis, Minn. home. Kim has won several Minnesota Junior PGA events and has led her high school team, Edina, to four state championships in four years. After her stellar 2017 season, including the individual state title, Kim was named Miss Minnesota Golf.
"Joanna and Olivia are a great fit for our program. They continue to raise the bar, while taking important notes from the returners. They both had successful junior golf careers, and we have already seen what they are able to bring to our program on and off the course," Adalsteinsson said. "They really embrace the challenge of being a student at Williams and competing for the women's golf team."
The Ephs also sport a strong sophomore class in Gabby Martin, Mehr Sawant, Stella Woo, and Holly Davenport. Martin is a dual sport athlete, playing basketball in the winter and golf in the fall and spring. Two sports keep her busy but over the summer, she has been working on controlling her 300-yard bombs. Sawant recently moved from New Jersey to Boca, Fla. so in addition to getting her tan on, Sawant was able to spend ample hours on the range in sunny Florida. Woo spent the summer visiting her relatives in Korea but made sure to get some course time in. Watch her gain some distance this year with all those hours in the gym. Davenport is coming off of a momentous Spring season, finishing T10 at the NCAA Tournament qualified her for the All-American Honorable Mention Team.
This year's junior class is cut in half with French and Art History major, Renee Kwak, studying abroad in Paris, France. Kwak's classmate Cindy Wang is coming back strong and has been working hard both in the gym and on the range.
"We are so excited to welcome the freshman on the team. The team is looking extremely strong this year and tying the NCAA championships last year has made us excited to start the season strong," co-captain Isabella Wang said.
The Ephs also return one extra special player in Noelle Dravis. Seventh grader Noelle is the team's Team Impact addition and comes to as many team practices and events as she can. She is a bright presence to the team and is even learning how to play the sport herself!
After a weekend of qualifying rounds, the Ephs will be training hard to compete at the Dartmouth Invitational up in Hanover, NH. This is a Division 1, Ivy League tournament the Ephs have not played in since 2015. They will tee it up on Sept. 15-16.