Rutgers takes youth to AAC Championship

The Rutgers women’s golf team looks to gain some much-needed experience at the AAC Championship tournament this weekend.

The tournament will take place Sunday through Tuesday in Palm Coast, Fla., and the weather seems to be in the golfers’ favor. The temperature will vary from the low to mid 80s throughout the tournament with sunny and partly cloudy skies.

Participating for the Scarlet Knights in the tournament will be sophomores Samantha Moyal, Christina Paulsen and Gabrielle Sacheli, as well as freshmen Taylor Clark and Maddy Gedeon.

Each of the Knights have performed well for Rutgers this season and consistently competed in tournaments — with the exception of Paulsen, whose recent practice and play has allowed her to earn a spot to compete.

All of the Knights’ hard work from the season culminates in this last tournament, and it can be a moment for the young team to prove itself.

“I am looking forward to our last event of the season where all our hard work will pay off,” said head coach Maura Ballard. “The conference championship is always the highlight of our year. We are planning to have our best performance of the spring season.”

It is an exciting time of year for the Knights entering the AACs with a young team and having the ability to perform well.

“The AAC Championships is another opportunity for us to play great golf,” Clark said. “I am excited to play in it and am ready to play the tournament one shot at a time.”

Despite the high stakes, the pressure will not be higher for such a young team, Paulsen said.

“There will be pressure in this tournament but I think it will be about the same pressure that we feel for every other tournament we play in,” said Paulsen.

Moyal said the Knights should not be afraid to make bold plays in order to accumulate a better final score and have a chance to come away with the AAC title.

“There is always pressure when competing at such a high level as this,” Moyal said. “I think the best thing we can do is just to play aggressive out there and take risks.”

The Knights prepared for the championship all season, but specifically this week Rutgers has worked on play box focus and short game — two aspects that are critical to Rutgers’ performance and the improvement of its scores on the course.

The team is also happy about the possibility of playing in such nice weather in Florida.

Ballard thinks it will undoubtedly help Rutgers out with certain shots and its scoring opportunities.

“The course conditions in [Florida] should be good and there will be plenty of scoring opportunities around the greens,” Ballard said.

The Knights stressed all season they must be mentally prepared for the tournament and each shot that presents itself, while also playing in the moment and not looking ahead to their next shot or the next hole.

“A good finish will definitely give us confidence going into next season,” Clark said. “However, we have to enter this tournament with a focus on process rather than outcomes.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s golf team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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