When head coach Sofie Aagaard was driving the Cal Poly Women’s Golf Team back from their Big West Championship win in Yorba Linda, there was one thing noticeably absent: silence.
“Usually the team is quiet after an hour or two in the van, but they could not stop singing. It was nonstop from Yorba Linda to SLO,” Aagaard said on the team’s enthusiasm after their second conference championship win in school history.
“Coach even joined in too,” redshirt sophomore Vanessa Wang said. Wang snagged Big West Second Team honors at Yorba Linda Country Club the week of April 19-21.
The singing was a welcomed sight for the Mustang team who, on the final day of the tournament, came back from second place thanks to a string of birdies on the front nine to take a two-stroke win over second place UC Davis.
The team said they were not fazed with UC Irvine’s one-stroke lead heading into the final day of play and were sure they had the skills to make up for it on the final day.
“We played a lot of top teams in the nation this season. That gave us the confidence that we to know we had the skills to win this thing,” Wang said..
“I feel like we were the most prepared team there, plus we fed off our own energy the whole tournament which helps,” freshman Nicole Neale said. Neale was honored after the tournament with First Team and Freshman of the Year honors for the Big West Conference.
Neale is also evidence of the skills Aagaard has in recruiting new young talent to Cal Poly, with this being the third straight year a Mustang has been Big West Freshman of the Year.
The key to winning on the third and final day of the tournament in Coach Aagaard’s eyes was simple: keep playing their style of golf. Aagaard said that she told the team as long as they just paid attention to themselves and not the scores of the competitors, they would be fine.
The advice seemed to work well for Cal Poly who, after having their strongest performance on the front nine all week (something they struggled with in Day One and Two), eked out their second conference championship.
Making history as only the second ever Cal Poly team to win the conference tournament is something Wang did not take lightly, saying that winning like this “makes a difference not just for this program but for Cal Poly.”
Besides taking home the Big West Championship trophy, a number of Mustangs took home individual accolades. Besides the honors given to Wang and Neale, junior Caroline Cantlay was announced for second team All-conference, sophomore Elizabeth Scholtes got an honorable mention, and Aagaard was given her third Big West Coach of the Year award.
“I’m lucky to have this team,” Aagaard said. “I wouldn’t have won this without them cause I can only shine when they shine.”
Neale said she attributes her Freshman of the Year win to Aagaard, saying that her play was “elevated” when she arrived to Cal Poly thanks to her coach’s guidance..
Wang said her honors were just a bonus for a season in which getting to play in the first place was enough to make the year a good one.
After winning the Big West Tournament, the Mustangs qualified for the Women’s Golf postseason, which began with a regional round at the Stanford Golf Course from May 10-12. The Mustangs placed 17th in the tournament with Wang taking 24th place individually.