Florida Tech Women’s Golf Team Advances To NCAA National Championship

By  //  May 18, 2019

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Panthers Tee Off Saturday morning at 9 a.m

Florida Tech defeats Findlay and SW Oklahoma State in match play to earn berth into NCAA Final. (FIT Image)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech women’s golf team advanced to face California State San Marcos in the national championship match after defeating Southwest Oklahoma State 3-2 in the semifinal match at PGA National on Friday.

Tech bested Findlay 3-2 in the quarterfinals earlier in the day to reach the semifinal match against SWOSU.

The Crimson & Gray played well throughout in the morning’s quarterfinal to earn the 3-2 win over a talented Findlay squad at PGA’s Champion Course. Lucy Eaton never trailed in her match against Jill Schmitmeyer and after knocking in a birdie on the second hole, she cruised to the 5-stroke victory.

Megan Dennis was able to grab a 3-shot edge after the Findlay golfer triple-bogeyed 12. Dennis then rode the momentum to a 4-stroke win and gave Tech a 2-0 advantage. Paola Ortiz won the clinching point for Tech by three shots over Kristina Kniesly. Noelle Beijer fought hard but was unable to overcome an early deficit eventually falling by one stroke.

Lauren Watson led early on in her match against Makenzie Torres but some tough breaks on the back nine allowed Torres to win by five shots.

“All were very good matches in the quarterfinals,” said head coach Chris Saltmarsh. “Lucy played steady the whole round and began to pull away into the middle of the back nine. Always nice to get that first point on the board.

“Megan climbed out to an early lead but unfortunately gave it away by the end of the front nine. I believe her birdie on 10 was what sparked her comeback and then took her momentum to the finish. Paola was steady after getting off to a rocky start. She just continued to play her game and capitalized on her opponent’s mistakes. When she holed out for eagle on 11 I believe that’s what gave her the edge the rest of the way.”

In the semifinal, SWOSU jumped out to the early lead as Chloe Thackeray was able to take advantage of a few miscues by Megan Dennis to get her team the first point. Lauren Watson was able to answer back for the Panthers with probably the biggest victory of the day taking down the national runner-up, Gloria Choi, head-to-head. Watson never trailed in the match and after Choi struggled at the “Bear Trap”, she was able to pick up a few shots before grueling out the win.

“I cannot say enough about the resiliency and toughness of Lauren going up against their best player and coming out on top,” Saltmarsh stated. “She was never down in the match. Lauren fought hard for that point and earned it, which was crucial in getting us into the finals.”

Lucy Eaton went shot-for-shot with Jenna Eidem for five holes in their semifinal match before the Panther picked up two shots with birdies on holes 6 and 7. Eaton then held on for the 2-stroke win to hand Tech a 2-1 lead. Despite an up-and-down match by Noelle Beijer, she was able to fight her way back from a 3-shot deficit and clinch her team’s championship berth.

“Noelle really came through for us today, overcoming three double-bogeys to secure the final point needed for the victory.”

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The championship final between Florida Tech and Cal State San Marcos is set to begin Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

Saltmarsh and the team know they have a tough task ahead against CSUSM, which features 2019 All-American and this year’s individual national champion Jaime Jacob, but are also looking forward to taking their crack a winning the ultimate prize.

“We are going to play our game tomorrow and leave it all out there,” said Saltmarsh. They are playing for each other and to do their best, and will work on finishing on the highest note possible.”

Whatever that note may be one thing is for certain, the women’s golf team, which in January was announced as being discontinued after this spring, will have a chance to be crowned National Champions on the very last day of the program’s existence.

Florida Tech vs. Findlay Quarterfinal Match
Lucy Eaton def. Jill Schmitmeyer – 5 Up
Megan Dennis def. Samantha Hatter – 4 Up
Meredith Wipper def. Noelle Beijer – 1 Up
Paola Ortiz def. Kristina Kniesly – 3 Up
Makenzie Torres def. Lauren Watson – 5 Up

Florida Tech vs. SW Oklahoma State Semifinal Match
Chloe Thackeray def. Megan Dennis – 4 Up
Lauren Watson def. Gloria Choi – 1 Up
Lucy Eaton def. Jenna Eidem – 2 Up
Noelle Beijer def. Veronika de Bochdanovits – 2 Up
Elin Wahlin def. Paola Ortiz – 5 Up

Saturday’s Tee Times
9:00 – Lucy Eaton vs. Breann Horn
9:10 – Paola Ortiz vs. Bergen Benedict
9:20 – Megan Dennis vs. Savannah Magallon
9:30 – Noelle Beijer vs. Jaime Jacob
9:40 – Lauren Watson vs. Claire Hogle

For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech women’s golf team, visit FloridaTechSports.com.