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Coming off a fourth-place finish at last season’s Ivy League Championships, the Harvard women’s golf team headed north of the border to Hanover Country Club in Hanover, N.H. this weekend carrying more than just golf bags. The Crimson golfers carried with them high hopes for the upcoming season as well.
After capturing the Harvard/Dartmouth Challenge Cup—a symbolic trophy the two teams compete for—last season, the Crimson headed to the Big Green’s home course to defend its title.
But its neighbor to the north wasn’t Harvard’s only competitor. The Dartmouth Invitational, a 36-hole affair spanning the weekend, boasted a field of the northeast’s finest female collegiate golfers from 18 area universities.
By the conclusion of day one, the Crimson seemed to have picked up right where it left off last April, finding itself tied for third with host and primary rival Dartmouth. Though 18 strokes behind tournament-leading Princeton in team competition, Harvard’s golfers remained confident going into the second day.
“As a team we were definitely satisfied after the first day,” captain Merry Chiampa said. “We made a few mental errors and had several sloppy shots, but overall we made a good showing.”
Early Sunday morning, Harvard seemed poised to make a move, with a team score of three over par through the first six holes of competition.
But then the rains came, and the hour-long suspension of play seemed to vanquish the Crimson’s momentum. Yet Harvard still finished in sixth place overall with a total combined score of 644, tying the program’s best tournament total ever.
Junior J.J. Kang led Crimson scorers with rounds of 73 and 82, good enough for a top-10 finish, while sole senior Chiampa finished with identical first- and second-round scores of 79. Junior Carrie Baizer (81-84) and sophomores Jennifer Cronan (85-82) and Caitlin Hicks (87-84) rounded out Harvard’s scoring.
Unfortunately for the Crimson, its record-tying scores were not good enough to top the Big Green, which finished two strokes ahead of Harvard in fourth and recaptured the Challenge Cup. Princeton took top honors.
Though mildly disappointed with the tournament’s outcome, the Crimson still has reason for optimism. Of particular note is the relative youth of the team, which is comprised of as many upperclassmen as underclassmen.
“We have two freshmen [Jacqueline Rooney and Erin Wilson] who show extreme promise,” Chiampa said. “It is very important to have a mix of both experience and youth on a team—which I think we have for probably the first time—in order to keep goals in focus and continue to move forward.”
Harvard is looking to build upon this weekend’s experiences and has two weeks to prepare before taking its next step at Princeton’s invitational Sept. 27-28.
“We are all capable of playing better than we did this past tournament, but it was a good start to the season,” Kang said. “That makes me optimistic about making this a watershed year for the program.”
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