Alabama women’s golf coach Mic Potter, left, talks with Laura Stephenson on Tuesday during a break in the action at the NCAA Championships. Alabama beat Kent State and USC to advance to the championship match against Arizona on Wednesday at the par-72, 6,328-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Photo by: Alabama Athletic Media Relations
May 23, 2018 10:04:32 AM
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The Alabama women's golf team rolled to a 7-2-1 combined match play record against No. 7 seed Kent State and No. 3 seed USC in the quarterfinals and semifinals Tuesday to clinch a berth in the final match of the NCAA Championships.
No. 2 Alabama will meet No. 8 seed Arizona on Wednesday in the championship match at the par-72, 6,328-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club. The berth in the title match is the first for Alabama since the NCAA adopted the current match-play format in 2015.
"We got off to a good start today and just let it ride," Alabama coach Mic Potter said. "It's a national championship. It's not hard to stay motivated. We try to match our best player against their best player and match everyone in a way that gives them a chance to win. I don't believe in sacrificing anyone. I want everyone to have a chance to win."
Alabama opened the day with 4-1 victory over No. 7 seed Kent State in the quarterfinals Tuesday morning. Juniors Cheyenne Knight and Lauren Stephenson, sophomore Kristen Gillman, and freshman Angelica Moresco posted wins against the Golden Flashes out of the Mid-American Conference.
Alabama took control of the match early and led four of the five matches at the turn. Stephenson picked up the first win with a 3-and-2 victory over Pimnipa Panthong. Moresco posted a 5-and-3 win over Chloe Salort before Gillman and Knight clinched the match with 2-and-1 and 4-and-3 wins, respectively, over Michaela Finn and Kory Nielsen.
The victory moved Alabama into the semifinals against third-seeded USC, which handed No. 6 seed Duke a 3-1-1 quarterfinal defeat to advance.
The Crimson Tide controlled the match from the outset. As with the quarterfinal, Stephenson was the first to clinch a win, recording a 3-and-2 victory over Jennifer Chang with a par on 17. Gillman followed on 17 with a 3-and-1 win over Amelia Garvey. Knight continued the run with a match-sealing birdie on 17 against Allisen Corpuz for a 3-and-1 win and a 3-1-1 final team tally.
"On 17 it really helps to have good drivers who have confidence and can pick a target and pretty much hit it where they're looking," Potter said. "Once you get it in the fairway, it's not as threatening as you think. But you've got to drive it in the fairway. We did that really well in both matches."
Arizona reached the championship match on the strength of upsets of top-seeded UCLA (3-2) in the quarterfinals and fifth-seeded Stanford (4-1) in the semifinals. The Wildcats were the last team to qualify for match play after beating Baylor in a playoff in a stroke-play playoff on Sunday afternoon.
With a win Wednesday, Alabama would clinch its second national championship in women's golf. Potter's 2011-12 squad won the school's first national golf title at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Franklin, Tennessee.
Coverage of the championship match will air live on the Golf Channel beginning at 3 p.m.
n In related news, Gillman, Knight, and Stephenson were named Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-Americans on Tuesday morning.
With three honorees, Alabama has the most this season and a quarter of the 12-woman team.
All three finished in the top 10 during the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championships. It marked the first time Alabama has had three players finish in the top 10 at the event. Knight finished fourth, while Stephenson and Gillman tied for seventh. Knight is the second Alabama player to earn three first-team WGCA All-America accolades in a career, joining Stephanie Meadow (2011, 13, 14).
Overall, eight Alabama golfers have earned 14 first-team honors. At least one Crimson Tide golfer has made the list each of the last eight years.
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