The future looks bright for Brewer golf as Andrea Han and Qiwen Tan, two freshmen, take the lead for the Vassar’s women’s team, playing in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots respectively.
With a squad of only five members, the strong freshman class will have a positive impact on the team immediately.
Head coach Andy Jennings has high hopes for these standout Brewers. “The freshmen are integrating into our program very well, so clearly quality players but they are already adding to the personality of the team in many positive ways,” he explained.
The Brewers opened the season strongly by beating Union on Sept. 11 in the season and home opener. The match was played in Vassar’s backyard at the Casperkill Golf Course in Poughkeepsie. Casperkill is an 18-hole par 72 course that measures 5,800 yards.
Vassar paired up each of its five players with Union’s and went head-to-head for the day. Han defeated Union’s Carly Coppola by eight strokes with a score of 80. Fellow freshman Tan handily outscored her opponent, Union’s No. 2 Caroline Roberto 89 to 94.
While the freshmen won their matches by a wide margin, the upperclassmen pulled out wins in much tighter competition. Junior Annie Hsu, No. 3 for Vassar, tied at 87 strokes with her opponent but earned the match point with a 4-3 victory over Molly Weiner.
Both Shay and senior Emily Prince won their matches by one point. Shay scored 93 to Gina Whalen’s 96, and Prince outshot Rianna Quiogue by two strokes with a score of 92.
Winning the first contest is a huge accomplishment, especially against a Liberty League opponent. Sweeping Union 5-0 puts the women on track to reach their goal of advancing to the Liberty League Championships in the spring.
The Brewers continued Liberty League play on Sept. 17 and 18 at the Ann S. Batchelder Invitational hosted by Wellesley College. Vassar faced off against six teams, including three Liberty League contenders of Mount Holyoke, Wellesley and NYU, along with three NESCAC members Amherst, Williams and Middlebury.
Amherst finished first in the tournament with both the No. 1 and No. 2 finishers. Williams, NYU, Middlebury, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Vassar followed Amherst in that order.
The Brewer’s total stroke score after two days of competition was 700 while Amherst shot 616.
While the tournament did not go as planned for the Brewers, Han had a stand-out performance. She finished 10th overall with a 79 on both days for an overall score of 158.
Han’s 158 was 19 strokes better than Vassar’s next highest score of 177, shot by No. 2-player Tan, who finished in 34th place overall in the tournament.
The rest of the Brewers followed closely behind Tan as Prince, Hsu and Shay shot 181, 184 and 192, finishing 37, 40 and 42 respectively.
Over the weekend of Sept. 24, the Brewers improved upon their previous match by finishing eighth out of 14 at the Mount Holyoke Invitational in South Hadley, MA.
The team shot 677, led once again by Han with a score of 160. Tan finished behind Han with a score of 168 while Shay shot 175 and Hsu and Prince tied at 176. The group’s final score of 677 is the team’s best yet this season.
Han states that her personal goal is to average 76 for the season while she hopes that everyone will finish under 85 for every match.
In order to meet such high goals, the women hit during year-round. Many of the players practiced either on the driving range or at courses near their homes over the summer.
Coach Jennings expects that each player practiced over the summer but knows that it can be hard to find playing time when many of them work or have summer internships.
“I studied abroad in Qingdao, China at the Qingdao Summer Program for Chinese Language. It was an intensive, eight-week program focusing on the study of Mandarin. Because I was studying abroad, I was not able to practice a lot,” outlined Shay.
With such a small team, every person’s play has a huge impact on the day’s outcome. “Emily Prince is the captain and is an important leader, however in a small team, each player plays an important part in the growth and development of the team,” said Coach Jennings.
All of the women speak highly of each other, which is conducive to a strong team dynamic.
“My favorite part about playing golf is getting to hangout with my teammates, sharing meals with them and living with them each weekend in a different city. My team and I also love our coaches Anna Ausanio and Andy Jennings,” expressed Hsu.
Each weekend during the fall and spring seasons the team travels around the northeast in order to play against challenging competition.
“My favorite part of playing golf is of course being with my teammates but also being able to play at some of the premier courses in the Northeast for free is definitely a plus,” stated Prince.
Head Coach Jennings splits his time between the golf squad and men’s soccer team. “It is difficult to balance both–but Anna Ausanio our associate head coach is awesome and oversees the on-course practices and matches,” he articulated. “I am more involved with the organization and administration of the program. Having a first-class assistant coach for soccer, Ross Macklin, is also key in enabling the balance.”
Jennings coached the men’s soccer team to a 1-1 draw against Liberty League opponent Skidmore on Saturday Sept. 24 in Saratoga Springs, NY and then drove to South Hadley, MA to meet the golf team for competition at the Mount Holyoke Invitational the next day.
The Brewers look to continue improving their scores as they compete for the next three weekends at the William’s College Fall Invitational, Middlebury College Invitational and New York University Invitational.
The team will then take a competition hiatus until returning back home for the Vassar College Invitational on April 8 and 9 to kick off the spring season.