July 1, 2013

#6 Top-10 Moments of 2012-13: Women’s Golf Claims First-Ever ECAC Title

At the intercollegiate athletic level, when a new varsity team is founded, the realistic expectation out of the gate is one of patience during initial years that may often bring struggle on the playing field.

But when the Merrimack women's golf team kicked off its inaugural campaign back in 2011, no one in the collegiate golfing ranks thought to share that notion with the Warriors.

In fact, after only two years of existence as a varsity program, Merrimack can boast a 24-month resume that more than likely rivals or surpasses the vast majority of programs in the region during that span, highlighted by several team victories at tournaments and an at-large qualifier in the NCAA Tournament.

The most important win for the Warriors, though, in the past two years came this in April of 2013.

Merrimack, a member of the Northeast-10 Conference for the vast majority of its 22 varsity sports, chose to compete in the ECAC Women's Golf Championships due to the fact that the NE-10 does not sponsor women's golf. That decision led to one of the top moments in the two-year history of the program, as well as one of the more memorable accomplishments on campus in 2012-13.

Led by junior phenom Jessica Ngui (Richardson, Texas), Merrimack blew away the eight-team field by 30 shots, laying claim to the team's first-ever conference title, as well as the fifth conference championship by a Merrimack team on the year. Merrimack left little doubt throughout the two-day event, placing three competitors in the top-five en route to the program's first-ever ECAC crown.

Ngui, who had been so stellar all year long, paced the Warriors with a 79 on the second day of the event. The Richardson, Texas, native shared the individual lead through the completion of two rounds before dropping a sudden-death playoff and settling for second overall in the individual leader board.

Ngui, however, was not alone; junior Louise McGillivray (Banchory, Scotland) also posted an impressive weekend with back-to-back 80's on her way to a third-place overall finish to earn a berth on the All-Tournament Team. Meanwhile, sophomore Ali Reed (Westborough, Mass.) added to the Warriors' success with an 83 on Sunday to finish with a two-day total of 161, good for fifth place overall.

All of that combined success helped Merrimack reach a goal that not many would peg possible for a second-year program. But for the Warriors, that success was not as far-fetched as it was in theory.

Making the ECAC crown that much more meaningful was that it was an additional springboard for Reed, who became the first student-athlete in team history to earn an individual at-large bid in the NCAA Super Regional in Joliet, Ill. The Westborough, Mass., native finished in sixth overall with a three-day total of 235, becoming one of only three individual at-large qualifiers nationwide for the four-day Championship.

Finally, Reed concluded the year inside the nation's top-50 with a 49th-place performance at the NCAA Championships. Playing at the LPGA International Legends Course, Reed opened the tournament with a six-over-par on Wednesday before shooting an 81 and 82 on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Finally, the sophomore wrapped up her stint with another 82 on Saturday, rounding out her four-day total to 35-over-par (323) to finish inside the country's top-50 individual tournament participants.

But all of that would likely have not been possible without the team's efforts at the ECAC's; at any level and regardless the sport, a conference championship is the equivalent of many teams' be-all, end-all yearlong goal.

For teams in their second year of existence, the odds of achieving that goal is more laughable than believable, but not for the Warriors, who will bring back nearly all components of this year's conference-winning roster next fall and spring.

That fact should be more than enough to put the rest of the region's golf squads on watch, as Merrimack aims for even greater accolades in 2013-14.

This is the fifth of 10 Merrimack Top Moments of 2012-13 Installments.

10. Women's Crew Wins NE-10 Cup V4 Title
9. Football's Historic Victory Vaults Voegeli to NFL
8. Men's Hockey Team's Dramatic OT Win over BC
7. Men's Lacrosse Stuns Top-Ranked Le Moyne
6. Women's Golf Claims First-Ever ECAC Title
5. Wednesday, July 3
4. Friday, July 5
3. Monday, July 8
2. Wednesday, July 10
1. Friday, July 12

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