Walking the greens of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf West Regional, UC Davis wasn’t just happy to be there.
But there were so many reasons why they should’ve been.
Early on in the season, head coach Kathy DeYoung announced that she would be calling it quits after building the UC Davis women’s golf program three years ago.
Three freshmen would be making a majority of the starts for the Aggies this season.
There was already plenty reason to be satisfied, as the Aggies earned the runner-up finish at the Big West Conference Championships two weeks ago in their first year of official Division 1 status.
Now you can chalk up: NCAA Championship qualifiers.
“What a ride!” exclaimed head coach Kathy DeYoung. “I am just so proud of them. We’re a Cinderella!”
In the three-day tournament at Lincoln Hills Golf Club, the UC Davis golf team went on to win a sudden-death playoff against No. 25 Stanford and No. 41 Ohio State.
But it was an uphill battle for the Aggies, who, after the first day of play, shot a 300 and saw themselves sitting at 15th place – seven spots back from a championship berth.
Senior Sydney Roughton and freshman Katie Sisler clocked in for 2-over 74s on the next day, helping lead the Aggies to a tie for ninth place.
Still on the outside looking in, the Aggies made all the necessary shots Saturday to move up and grab hold of a three-way tie for the oh-so-important eighth place spot.
Leading the Aggies in their final charge was Roughton, who carded a team-best 71, earning her a 13th-place finish for the tournament. Freshman Alice Kim fired off a par 72 to chip in as well.
Stanford, Ohio State and UC Davis were all sitting with 892 in their team scores and the clear-cut underdog Aggies were poised for the upset.
On the course’s first five holes, one player from each team would play, and the team with the lowest aggregate score would move on.
While Stanford and Ohio State both checked in at 1-over totals, the Aggies came in at 1-shot under par to win the eighth and final spot at the NCAA Championships, to be hosted by University of New Mexico from May 20 to 23.
“We showed a lot of heart, played loose, and it says a lot about the character of the team,” DeYoung said. “Looking forward, we just have to go in and do as good as we can do.”
If they can do that, there’s no telling where the story will end for UC Davis’ Cinderella team.
MATT MILLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.