For the fourth consecutive year, the Ithaca College women’s golf team has won the Empire 8 Championship title. The team finished with a score of 313, 314 on the weekend and set a school record of 627 after breaking a previous record of 631 last weekend at the St. Lawrence Invitational.
The Bombers defeated all other competitors by a whopping 188 strokes. Second-place Nazareth College finished with a two-day total of 815 followed by St. John Fisher College with 822 and Elmira College with 876.
Junior Taylor MacDonald, one of the four golfers who didn’t travel to Macedon, N.Y., with her teammates this weekend, chose to drive two hours to cheer them on. She said she attended the E8 tournament because it’s one of the Bombers’ closest events, and she wanted to support her fellow golfers.
MacDonald said the confidence her teammates had in the first two tournaments of the year may carry over into upcoming tournaments.
“It was really exciting to see them win not only because they won the title, but also because they broke another [school] record,” she said. “Because of the way they’ve been playing recently, I think it’s clear that they’re going to be more confident in themselves during the rest of the season. It’s so nice to have seen all of their hard work pay off so far.”
The women’s golf team has dominated the Empire 8 tournament since it began participating in the event four years ago.
This year, junior Sharon Li earned the title of tournament medalist with a score of 150. Freshman Kimberley Wong finished the weekend with a two-day total of 162 and was named this year’s Empire 8 Rookie of the Year.
Senior Amanda Failla finished in second place for the Blue and Gold with a total of 156 over the weekend, recording a personal best of 77 on Saturday and 79 on Sunday. Junior Kelsey Baker had a two-day score of 159. Freshman Lisa Calcasola posted 166 and earned all-conference first-team honors.
Sophomore Taylor Reeves, who travelled to the Empire 8 tournament to compete as an individual, also had a successful weekend. Reeves posted a two-day score of 179 and shot an 82 on Sunday to finish in a tie for ninth among 36 individuals competing in the event. Reeves was awarded the honor of Second Team All-Empire 8.
Failla was the only golfer who had played at the Blue Heron Hills Golf Club in Macedon, where the Empire 8 tournament was held this year. There, she shot one of the best 36-holes she has ever attempted. Failla said she has enjoyed being able to travel to the Empire 8 tournament all four years of her college career.
“My freshman year here was the first time we played in the tournament and was the first time Ithaca College played in the Empire 8,” Failla said. “I loved the team my freshman year, and I think that this year I finished out my E8 appearances on a high note with a great 36-hole score. [My teammates and I] work so hard, and it’s just so great to win it all four years.”
The Bombers have successfully broken a school record two weekends in a row. Head coach Dan Wood said since the college began playing in the tournament, it has always been able to win without much struggle.
The Empire 8 conference lacks teams who are able to play on the same level as the women’s golf team. Therefore, the competition at the tournament has never posed a threat to Ithaca like it does in other Bombers sports.
Wood explained that last weekend he wanted his golfers to concentrate on their individual games and focus on the bigger picture in a less-competitive atmosphere.
“We know that our team’s stroke average is very important when it comes to rankings and NCAA selections,” Wood said. “It was a forgone conclusion that we were going to win the conference championship. Our job was just to play good, safe, solid golf, and that’s what we did.”
Though Wood knew his team would win this weekend, the Blue and Gold still have four tournaments left this fall. With the easiest of the year out of the way, the women’s golf team still has to get through the hardest part of its season.
Two of its most important outings will take place in October when it plays in the Williams Invitational and Wittenberg Invitational. These events will directly affect the team’s chances at making the NCAAs this spring. The better the Bombers perform at the Williams and Wittenberg Invitationals, the higher chances they have of getting a bid.
But for now, Wood is hoping that the team’s success at the Empire 8 Championship will carry over to another challenging weekend at the Mount Holyoke Invitational in South Hadley, Mass.
“The tournament was supposed to give the team a good start and give them a good, positive attitude looking ahead,” he said.