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Two's Blues: In First Ever February Match, Women's Golf Suffers Nail-Biting Defeat

Senior Chloe Royston makes contact with a golf ball in a 2018 photo shoot for Harvard Athletics. On Saturday, Royston and the Crimson lost 3-2 in its 2022 season debut in South Carolina.
Senior Chloe Royston makes contact with a golf ball in a 2018 photo shoot for Harvard Athletics. On Saturday, Royston and the Crimson lost 3-2 in its 2022 season debut in South Carolina. By Courtesy of Conner Grant/Harvard Athletics
By Erignacio Fermin Perez, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Women’s Golf opened the 2022 season with a matchup against Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 19. This season, the Crimson got off to an early start, playing a match in February for the first time in program history. Harvard has been playing indoors since the third week of October, so the match against the Pirates marked the team’s first chance to show off the improvements it had made over the course of the winter.

“We were able to find competition, a match against Charleston Southern, which is weeks earlier than we normally do,” Harvard head coach Kevin Rhoads said.

Seven head-to-head matches were held over the weekend, but, as is standard in NCAA Division I golf, only five would be counted toward the team result. Of those five matches, the Crimson had one win, two draws, and two losses in a season-opening defeat.

“We were predictably rusty, but that’s how it should be at this time of the year. And this is really just a way for us to start to get our feet under us, outdoors,” said Rhoads, who is in his 18th season coaching Harvard’s women’s team. Rhoads, the New England PGA Teacher of the Year in both 2008 and 2013, also coaches the men’s team, where he is currently in his tenth campaign.

Sophomore Isabella Gomez defeated Madison Freeman, 3 and 2. Unfortunately for the Crimson, the native of Bogota, Colombia, would claim Harvard’s only victory in the match.

First-year Catie Schernecker tied with CSU opponent Libby Singleton. Likewise, senior Chloe Royston ended all square with the Pirates’ Caroline Engelbredt to claim another half-point.

With Charleston Southern’s Isabella Friberg landing a critical blow on sophomore Yoona Kim, defeating her 5 and 4, and with each team tied on two points apiece, the season-opening match came down to the final pairing: sophomore Meiyi Yan and the Pirates’ Erica Whitehouse. The battle came all the way down to the 18th green, with Whitehouse barely edging the Windermere, Fla., native, 1 up. Despite the narrow defeat, the Crimson was able to claim some solace in the matches which did not count towards the score, as senior Anina Ku thrashed the Pirates’ Kathryn Thorne, 5 and 3. Harvard lost the other uncounted match, as Charleston Southern’s Shani Brynard was able to edge first-year Katie Dzialga, 2 up.

After a strong fall season, which Harvard concluded on Oct. 16 with a second-place finish out of 12 teams in Delaware’s UD Lady Blue Hen Invitational, Rhoads and the Crimson hope to build off its momentum as the spring campaign ramps up.

“We had a very successful fall season,” Rhoads said. “We have talent, we have very hard work, and we have a really directed and focused team that's trying to accomplish some special things together.”

One of those special things would be a victory in the Ivy League Championships, which will take place April 22-24 at The Ridge at Back Brook in Ringoes, N.J. Harvard has been dominant in the conference tournament, earning eight Ancient Eight titles since 2008. In 2019, the last time the tournament was contested before being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Harvard not only claimed the team title, but first-year Elizabeth Wang won the individual championship. Rhoads is confident that this iteration of the Crimson can defend its title.

“They have goals in mind. They’re definitely focused on trying their very best to win an Ivy Championship,” he said. “They are focused every day. They are the kind of people that it is just part of what they do, that they just want to keep on working as hard as they can and see how good they can be.”

Harvard’s journey to the Ivy League title will resume after another month-long layoff, as the Crimson will play a spring break match against Keiser on March 17 at PGA Regional Estates in West Palm Beach, Fla.
–Staff writer Erignacio Fermin Perez can be reached at erignacio.ferminperez@thecrimson.com.

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