The Vassar College women’s golf team has started off their fall season with a new coach, a larger roster and great success. This year’s team boasts an expanded roster, with seven different players to choose from on a weekly basis. This is an upswing from last year’s roster of only five. The team also welcomes back Andy Jennings as head coach. Jennings, one of the most prolific men’s soccer coaches in Division III after winning his 200th game earlier this season, has also helped create a winning program for women’s golf. Under his leadership, the team was ranked as high as 16th in the country. This year’s team also has some depth and talent. The team is composed of one freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and one senior. Juniors Aimee Dubois and Angela Mentel serve as captains, and senior Caitlin Bell is returning from a year away at Dartmouth.
From the start, the Brewers have had the mindset of taking each tournament one at a time, according to Mentel in an emailed statement. “At the beginning of the season, our team set out to improve tournament to tournament and day by day. So far, we have achieved this goal. We’ve improved tournament to tournament and tied with Mount Holyoke for fourth place at our tournament this past weekend. I am so incredibly proud of this team and cannot wait to see what our last two tournaments [of the fall] hold for us.”
Sophomore standout Diana Howland echoed Mentel’s sentiments of daily improvement in a statement in an emailed statement, “The team has played really well overall so far. All of our practices have been a lot more focused this year and I really think we’re all improving each and every day, as our results have been showing.” She was impressed with the team’s performance so far but cited consistency as a continual goal. “The team has performed incredibly well but I think one thing we need to work on is our consistency.”
The team began its 2014-2015 season with a ninth place overall finish at the New York University Invitational. The Brewers started off their second day in seventh place, but dropped twelve strokes off its Saturday score and were passed by St. Lawrence University and SUNY Cortland. Dubois was the leading scorer for the Brewers as she placed 15th overall. She finished with a seven-over 79, which was her best score since scoring 79 last year at the Vassar Invitational. Bell and Mentel both improved their scores from Saturday, finishing 32nd and 39th, respectively. Freshman Annie Hsu made her college debut at the tournament and ended tied for 46th. Sophomore Diana Howland also improved her Saturday score and scored a 99 for her third collegiate round under 100.
Howland found this tournament to be one of her favorites so far and has been impressed with Hsu’s play overall. “I think my most memorable tournament as a Brewer was probably our [first one this year]. [It was] our freshman [Hsu’s] first tournament and she had a really great time which was really nice to see…I really think our freshman Annie Hsu is someone to watch on our team. She’s been putting up great scores and has a very good attitude. She will do great things.”
With a young team, expanded roster and an optimistic attitude, team dynamic has been incredibly important, according to Mentel. “Our team is…growing together each day at every single practice. We are also learning from our tournament experiences and constantly making each other better. Our dynamic is incredible. We get along so well and each person brings different styles and characteristics to the team. Everyone has their own playing styles and practice styles, but we come together to form something incredible. I am so happy to see our freshman, Annie Hsu, come into the team dynamic so well. We also welcomed back Caiti Bell this season…and we are so psyched to have her back. Our sophomores bring so much energy and talent to the team as well…[in terms of] their scores as well as attitudes. We are so lucky to have them on the team.”
Howland also sees the dynamic nature of the team as positive. “I think we’re all really hungry this season. We’ve got a new coach and assistant coach, so it’s all very exciting. Our team really has a ton of potential, so we’re looking forward to Liberty Leagues. I think if we continue to put in the work, we can definitely win.” This hunger and competitive drive is essential to the constant improvement that women’s golf has shown and hopes to continue showing.
The team next competed at the Mount Holyoke Invitational. The Brewers finished eighth overall and were just a stroke behind Cortland’s 699. Sunday’s team score of 335 was the lowest for the Brewers since a 333 in April of 2013, 23 rounds ago. The two-day total of 700 was also the lowest since the final tournament of the 2012-13 season at Williams College. Dubois saw her third-lowest total as a Brewer when she posted 162 overall. She finished tied for 16th, and was only one stroke shy of 11th. Bell was just a stroke off of her personal best of 81, as she shot an 82 to tie for 34th place. Mentel was a few behind her and finished tied for 38th. Hsu beat her personal best from the previous weekend and posted an 85 on Sunday. Dubois performance earned her a place on the Liberty League Honor Roll for that week. This success seemed to carry over to the next weekend as well.
The Brewers moved on to compete in the Middlebury College Women’s Invitational last weekend, a tournament Mentel cites as one of her favorites. “A specific memory or moment that we’ve had happened this season actually. Our tournament this past weekend was amazing. Going into a tournament, we always try to take a picture as a team and we always do a team break before we tee off. This weekend I really felt like our team was into it and it gave us some motivation going into the two days.”
Remembering this tournament, Howland also found it a great weekend for team unity. “We all get along great as a team. We’re a small team so we’re all very close and have a great time with one another. This weekend we had a really great tournament in terms of competing as well as enjoying being together.”
The motivation seemed to have worked as the Brewers managed to finish 26 strokes lower than the weekend before. The Brewers posted a total score of 674 and tied for fourth place overall. Dubois finished tied fifth overall after shooting 158 on the weekend. This tied her personal best for a two-day tournament and was her third career top-five finish. The 674 was also the lowest score for the Brewers since October of 2012. Mentel also had an impressive weekend, as she posted her career best with a 162. She finished 11th overall. Meanwhile, Hsu swung her way to a 22nd place finish with a new overall low of 173, nine better than the weekend before. Bell tied for 29th with a 179. Sophomore Emily Prince played her first round this season and posted an overall score of 190 for the weekend. By leading the Brewers with her strong play, Dubois was named Liberty League Performer of the Week after this tournament.
Howland has been impressed with her team’s competitiveness so far, especially compared to other Liberty League teams. “We want to be competitive with the top teams in the Liberty League this season and so far, we definitely have.”
In a statement made to the Vassar Athletics website, Jennings has mentioned that his goal for the team is to make it back to the NCAA tournament and the first step in that process is winning Liberty Leagues and claiming the automatic tournament bid the Liberty League winner receives. The team knows that it needs to continue to improve overall and individual. Howland agrees with that. “My individual goal this season is consistency. I know I have the potential but I just need to string those good shots together to make one good round.”
The Brewers are back in action next weekend at Williams College for the Williams College Fall Invitational before traveling to Wellesley College on Oct. 11 and 12 to compete in the Ann S. Bachelder Invitational to round out their fall schedule. With great team unity and strong competitive drive, the team looks to continue to build on their success and continue their winning ways.