Women’s golf wraps up day one of Mid-American Match Play Challenge

Abbie Gault was the only
Leatherneck to pick up a victory.

GOLEATHERNECKS.COM

Abbie Gault was the only Leatherneck to pick up a victory.

Jake VanZuiden, Courier Staff

On Monday, the Western Illinois women’s golf team took the course for the first time in over three months. They headed to Lakewood Ranch, Fla. to compete in the Mid-American Match Play Challenge, their first action since Oct. 29. With so much preparation time over winter break, the Purple and Gold came out to show that all their hard work on their individual games had paid off.

Aside from Western Illinois, the two-day event hosted by Bowling Green University featured 10 other competing schools: Florida Gulf Coast University, Ohio University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Morehead State University, University of Akron, Purdue University Fort Wayne, Northern Illinois University and Illinois State University.

For the tournament format, the No. 11 Leathernecks squared off with the No. 6 Western Michigan in Monday’s fourth match of the tournament with the winner moving on to face No. 3 Eastern Michigan and the loser moving to the consolation bracket.

With some help from sophomore Abbie Gault, the Purple and Gold gave Western Michigan a run for their money but ended up falling just short. Gault was the only Leatherneck to score an individual victory, defeating Alissa Fish of WMU with two holes left to play. Freshman Katie Tanner was toe-to-toe with WMU’s Cameron Lucia as they were tied on several occasions throughout the match, but Lucia pulled ahead late for the victory. Cassidy Jurkaites, Emily Marrs and Natalie Hooper all lost their individual matchups, respectfully. Overall, the Leathernecks were defeated by Western Michigan by a score of 4-1.

However, things were better for Western in the second round against Ohio University. While they still ended up dropping this one to the Bobcats 3-2, it was a bit closer than the score indicates. Gault played her best golf once again, beating Ohio’s Maria Howard with ease (4 and 3). Jurkaites was the other Leatherneck to score a victory, defeating Alicia Provasnik of Ohio by a 2 and 1 decision. Director ofGolf and Western head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen wished they could have pulled out at least one team victory on Day 1 of the event, but acknowledged the positives from her team’s play.

“The team played better this afternoon but just missed winning the third match for the team win in the second round,” Lukkarinen said in an interview with WIU Athletics Communications. “We would have been happy with our scores in stroke play so we will work on finishing strong tomorrow.”

While this didn’t necessarily shape up to the strong start to the 2020 Spring season the Purple and Gold had hoped for, they’ll look to build on their performance heading into the next event. The Leathernecks will have just under three weeks to hone their approaches before competing in the Alabama State Spring Golf Kickoff in Montgomery, Ala. on Feb. 23.