Freshman wins second tourney to pace Rutgers
Before the start of last weekend’s Rutgers Invitational, Rutgers women’s golf coach Maura Waters-Ballard wanted to finish in the top three, she said. She hit her target.
For the second time in three tournaments this season, the Scarlet Knights came within striking distance of a tournament victory. But for the second time, the Knights had to settle for second place, a position Waters-Ballard is more than happy with.
“I’m very proud of my girls,” she said.
The Knights totaled a team score of 618, two strokes behind winner Boston College. The Eagles captured their third title at Rutgers in the past four years.
Freshman Kortnie Maxoutopoulis, who earned her second victory and third consecutive top-five finish this season in three tournaments, led the way for the Knights.
“Kortnie is really excited and she thinks she can win a few more tournaments,” Waters-Ballard said.
Maxoutopoulis carded a 150, two strokes ahead of junior teammate Brittany Weddell.
Weddell’s score of 152 put her in a tie for second place with Hartford’s Sarah Sideranko.
Senior captain Lizzy Carl and senior Elisa Mateer, who tied for 16th with a 158, followed Maxoutopoulis and Weddell for the Knights. Junior Karen Cash, who finished tied for 52nd with a 167, rounded out the scorecard.
The key to the Knights’ success this weekend was their focus, Water-Ballard said.
“They can get distracted at home,” she said. “But the pressure of family and friends watching did not get to the team.”
Typically, the scores from later rounds of a tournament are better than the opening round since players get to know the course better.
Thanks to high winds on Saturday, the opposite occurred.
“The wind was really tough,” Waters-Ballard said. “There were really difficult conditions.”
While the wind posed a problem, favorable course conditions helped the players adjust after recent thunderstorms.
“The course was in great shape considering all of the rain. The greens were really smooth,” Waters-Ballard said. “The greenskeepers did a great job.”
In addition to the second-place finish, the Knights were also satisfied when they looked below them in the standings.
St. John’s and Seton Hall, the only other Big East teams in the tournament, finished in third and fourth place, respectively.
The Red Storm ended up 12 strokes behind the Knights, while the Pirates trailed Rutgers by 19 strokes.
Although the conference championships are still more than six months away, the results are still comforting to Waters-Ballard.
“We only see them a few times before the Big East Championships,” she said. “It’s nice going in to know that we have an upper hand on some of them.”
The Knights have a chance to continue their strong play this weekend, when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa., for the Lehigh Invitational.
The Knights will see a field comparable to the Rutgers Invitational, Waters-Ballard said.