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Women’s Golf Takes Third at Taconic to Finish Fall Season

Middlebury Women's Golf

Middlebury Athletics Communications

Middlebury Women's Golf

By WILL CASE

The women’s golf team took to Route 7 and headed south last weekend toward Williamstown, Massachusetts, to play for the Nescac championship on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8. While the Ephs once again took to conference crown, the Panthers held their own on Williams’ home course at Taconic Golf Club.

The Panthers finished in third, only four shots behind second-place Amherst, shooting a 628 on the weekend. Williams took the trophy with a collective 612 for the weekend, with rounds of 306 on both days.

“Everyone on the team dedicated themselves to improving mentally and technically this fall,” Chloe Levins ’20 said after Sunday’s round was over. “There is nothing but motivation to take away from the season. It’s exciting to be inches from great success as a team.”

It was really a three-team race from end-to-end, as Williams, Amherst and the Panthers were within seven shots of each other after the first day of play (306, 307, 313). The next closest team at that point was Bowdoin, who was a distant 26 shots behind Middlebury.

Even more impressive about the Panthers’ weekend performance at Taconic is the fact that their weekend total of 628 was 13 shots better than their two-day score the last two times the team played at the familiar course, when they shot rounds of 641 twice last season.

After the first day, Helen Dailey ’19 and Chloe Levins ’20 found themselves in a share of the fifth spot on the individual leaderboard. Their rounds of 76 led the way for the Panthers, and it marked a career day for Dailey. Her 76 was the lowest round of her collegiate career thus far. For Levins, the 76 tied her second-lowest score for the season.

Blake Yaccino ’20 turned in an 80 on the first day, which for the third straight round, put Yaccino just on the precipice of breaking the 80 mark.

Hope Matthews ’18, one of the team’s two senior captains, was the last Panther to register in the day-one scoring, as she shot an 81.

In a stroke of bad luck, the Panthers’ other senior captain who almost always is among the team’s lowest scorers, Katharine Fortin ’18, had her highest round of the season on Saturday. She turned in an 83 on a course that has been hit or miss for her throughout her career. Fortin has shot rounds as low as 76 and as high as 87 at Williams’ home course.

However, the scoring played out differently for the Panthers last Sunday.

Fortin followed her tough Saturday with a key 79 on Sunday, which would prove to be the second-lowest score for the Panthers on day two. The lowest scorer was Yaccino, who finally overcame her tendency to add strokes to her score in the second round of tournaments and shaved five strokes off her Saturday score to register a 75. Her two-day total of 155 was the team low and was good for a fifth-place overall finish on the individual leaderboard.

Levins, the team’s no. 1 for much of the fall and the Nescac tournament individual champion at the event last year, fell off the lead on Sunday and fell short of defending her title. Her 84 pushed her from a tie for fifth to a tie for ninth. Although it rained over northwest Massachusetts on Sunday morning, Levins is not going to chalk up her higher score to anything but a tough round and a constructive experience.

“It rained heavily for the first four holes on day two,” Levins said. “This made the course trickier for everyone in the field to manage. My higher score, however, was not a byproduct of course conditions. I’m just still learning how to stay in contention on day two. One of these times, I’ll get it.”

Dailey also fell off of the pace she set for herself on Saturday, as she went from a 76 to an 81 on Sunday, putting her weekend total at 157 and her in a three-way tie for sixth in the individual competition. Matthews managed to shoot an 80 on Sunday, and her two-day total of 161 saw her claim a tie for 10th on the individual boards.

The Nescac tournament marked the end of the fall season for the women’s golf team, which has a lot to be excited about for the spring season and beyond.

“It has been really interesting to watch the team grow and develop over the past few years,” Matthews said. “I think we have gathered a lot of great talent in recent recruiting and it is definitely showing in our results. Although we have not won any tournaments yet, we are getting closer to catching our competitors each time. I’m really excited to see how we can challenge Williams, Amherst, NYU, and other opponents in the spring.”

As was the case for Matthews, the weekend also marked Fortin’s last conference tournament, and although the team did not push Williams as hard as they had hoped, Fortin was able to reflect on how far the program has come.

“This season has been a great show of our ability to compete with the other top NESCAC schools,” Fortin said. “We are driving the program in the right direction.

“When I came onto the team as a freshman, we were good, but we did not have the depth needed to compete with Williams and, eventually, Amherst and NYU,” Fortin said. However, the Panthers’ recent success with recruiting and seeing through the development of new players in the program looks to change that narrative.

“We have acquired some really strong underclassmen and have shown rising collegiate golfers that the Middlebury women’s golf team is in the thick of the competition every week,” Fortin said. “This will certainly help to further develop the program and recruit successful players in the coming years.”

More immediately, however, the short spring season will be here before fans of Middlebury golf know it. Fortin, who will have her fourth opportunity to measure up to the challenge of playing golf competitively in upper-New England Aprils, is looking to make the most of it.

“The short Spring season is definitely hard coming out of a cold winter,” Fortin said, “but we will continue to be up there with Williams and Amherst, especially if we stay on top of our games and keep up our strength through the winter months.

“Everyone is in the same position at the beginning of April, so we will be competing at the same level and will continue to give ourselves a chance to be on top of the leaderboard.”
Like the senior captain, the team’s emerging star—Levins—is looking forward to April and is boiling everything down to what really matters the most.

“It’s important to keep a singular focus on your own game from week to week,” Levins said. “However, on the weekends, we play as Middlebury Women’s Golf. The process of getting better never changes and neither does what we represent.

“The best thing for me, and everyone else, to do looking forward, is to keep it simple and get the ball in the hole for Middlebury.”

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