By Chris Chaney
A dream season came to an end for the Milford Lady Eagles’ golf team on Monday, Sept. 30 as the team fell one shot short of qualifying out the sectional tournament as a group.
“Heartbreak,” head coach Sandy Garrison said, summing up her team’s emotions. “We had our No. 3 player shoot above her average and another girl had 40 putts, so that’s what did us in.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Garrison’s Lady Eagles, however, as junior Megan Creager and senior Aly Severns advanced as individuals to the Oct. 10 district tournament at Weatherwax Golf Course in Middletown.
Expectations were high for the team heading into the sectional tournament. The Lady Eagles had set three goals for themselves coming into the 2013 season: go undefeated in the regular season, win the Eastern Cincinnati Conference crown and advance out of sectionals as a team.
The first of the three goals was a difficult ask for the Milford squad beings that Coach Garrison bulked up the team’s schedule this season in an effort to prepare her team to play the best competition out there.
Aside from their league opponents, the Lady Eagles took down out of conference stalwarts Mount Notre Dame, Mother of Mercy, Archbishop McNicholas and McCauley en route to a perfect 17-0 season.
The ECC Tournament, held on Sept. 26 at Bel-Wood Country Club, saw the Lady Eagles wrap up the second of their three goals, beating second-place Kings by 14 strokes, 354-368.
Creager, the Lady Eagles’ No. 1 player took home medalist honors, firing an 81 to edge Kings’ Alexa Holland by two strokes. Abby Swensen and Severns finished third and fourth, respectively with rounds of 88 and 89.
“We were favored to win, but you never know,” Garrison said of the ECC. “The girls got off to a rough start, playing bogey golf, but they started picking it up a little bit. All the short game practice we put in, I was hoping to see some more consistency, but it just wasn’t there that day, but it was good enough.”
The Lady Eagles identified a weakness in the short game following the ECC Tournament and put in a lot of time heading into the sectional tournament at Walden Ponds. Garrison said the team worked on chipping, putting and reading the greens in between the two tournaments.
As a team, Milford shot a 356, which, historically speaking, was a lock to advance out as a team. Anything under 360 had always advanced, but it just so happened that Lakota East shot a 355 and a hot Mercy team fired a 353 to leave the Lady Eagles on the outside looking in.
“We knew it was going to be tight,” Garrison said. “With tournament conditions, it was wet and cool (Monday) morning, but I don’t think the girls were that nervous. They knew they had the game to do what they needed to do, but the greens were faster than they anticipated and we had way too many three-putts. Out of the five girls, three of them had six three-putts, so that really hurt us.”
Garrison said she talked with the team and everyone agreed a putt from any one of the five girls playing could have made the difference, there was no one person who let them down.
The pair moving on individually, Creager and Severns have had two different paths to the district. Creager has been the best player in the conference all season, while Severns has struggled with her game over the course of the season, dropping as low as the No. 4 man in the lineup, but has grinded her way back up into the No. 2 slot more recently.
With only two members moving on, Garrison wants to keep the rest of the team involved in preparation process to keep things as normal as possible.
“(Weatherwax) is a course that they are both familiar with,” Garrison said. “Everyone got an off day (on Tuesday), but we’re going to have practice as usual on Wednesday as a team.
“Then from Thursday on, we’re going to practice with just (Creager and Severns) and try to individualize what they’re working on and have a friendly competitions between the two to break it up with some chipping and longest drive, things like that.
“They’re looking forward to it and their teammates are proud of them.”
Creager and Severns will have a week and a half to prepare for Weatherwax before putting the peg into the ground for real on Thursday, Oct. 10 just before 11 a.m.