St. Edward’s women’s golf looks to improve from last year as they have one of their deepest squads in recent memory.
Off to one of their best starts, the Hilltoppers have placed in the top three in their last four tournaments, including a first-place finish at the Sonoma State Invitation on Oct. 21.
The women have also had some incredible individual performances, as senior Haley Haught was able to place first individually at the Sonoma State Invitational. For Haught, however, team goals still come before her own.
“We want to win conference, regionals and we want to be able to place in the top three at nationals,” Haught said.
With the fall season concluded, the Hilltoppers now have over three months to prepare for their next tournament – the Lady Rattler Invitational on Feb. 16.
Looking to build off their hot start, the team is leaning on the guidance of their leaders.
“We have two seniors leading our team this year, Haley Haught and Marissa Bransburg,” Head Coach Jennifer McNeil said. “Each of them has had largely successful fall seasons.”
This senior leadership has also been complimented with an influx of young talent, consisting of freshmen and transfers.
“Jojo Rivera is a freshman who has really contributed to our success, she has a lot of talent and I cannot wait to see her go far in her career,” McNeil said. “We also were lucky to add Sandy Livas to our team from Fresno State; she has one of the best short games I have ever seen.”
These newcomers will prove pivotal for the Hilltoppers as they prepare to take on their main rivals Barry, Rollins and Villanova University in the spring, a preparation process predicated on coach-player relationships.
“Jennifer is the only coach I would play for,” junior Taylor Dillingham said. “She is a huge reason why our team is so successful.”
According to the NCAA regional ranking poll, the Hilltoppers are ranked No. 1 in the west. In order to maintain this ranking, the women understand they will need to lean on each other and remain focused.
“Our team is really close, some of us live together and others are really good friends,” Haught said. “We spend so much time together on the road and encourage each other on and off the course, we really feel like we are family.”
With a tight-knit squad, the Hilltoppers believe they can make a deep run in this spring’s NCAA tournament.