The 2019 College of the Canyons women’s golf team was named the 2019 CCCAA SoCal Regional champions for the second consecutive year at Via Verde Country Club in San Dimas on Monday.
Winning titles in back-to-back seasons, the Cougars posted a team score of 645. Saddleback College was more than 25 points behind as the runner-up with 674 points, College of the Desert had 682 for third place and Santa Barbara City College rounded out the top four with 702.
The two-round SoCal Regional Championship began well for the Cougars’ No. 1 golfer and the tournament’s individual regional champion, sophomore Haruka Koda after she shot a tournament-low 72 in the first round.
Canyons No. 2 golfer Jessie Lin shot an 81, the Cougars’ No. 3 Paige Heuer shot an 85 and Shabana Poswal shot an 89 to conclude the top four Cougars’ scores in the first round of play.
“We have those two low scores and Paige comes in with a high 80’s score, low 70’s score and Shabana shot an 89, 88 and that’s the difference,” said College of the Canyons head coach Gary Peterson.
“We have four solid golfers and Liza (Lieberman) has come in with some good scores too. That’s what I think separates us a little bit from the field, that everybody kind of covered for everybody else.”
Although the day started off well for the Cougars, Poswal and Delaney Young ran out of time and daylight, literally, and had to complete the first round of play before they could get underway with the second round on Monday.
Koda and the rest of the Cougars picked up where they left off and delivered equally impressive scores as Koda (73), Lin (77) Heuer (80) and Poswal (88) combined to shoot 318, the tournament’s lowest score of any day. It was also nine strokes better than the Cougars shot on Day 1.
“It’s a good group of women golfers who understand the game and I think that they are always in the game to play their very best,” Peterson said of the team. “A lot of times, if the other teams aren’t playing well, I see a lot of the players give up or not care as much. I think the team understands the traditions of our programs and they understand that they are COC golfers and they have to play well.”
Shooting a 145 (72/73) Koda defeated the individual runner-up and Saddleback College’s Katie Stribling by eight strokes after she shot 153 (78/75). Lin (81/77), after winning the top individual award in 2018, and Mt. San Antonio College’s, Precious Saelee, tied for third place with a total score of 158.
Heuer (85/80) finished at 165 and Poswal (89/88) at 177 for the Cougars.
“I think Jessie could have easily won it again today and Haruka could have came in second or Haruka came in first and Jessie came in second,” Peterson said of the team’s talent. “These two golfers are phenomenal and they came to us very talented and I think their talent and their desire has basically permeated the whole team.
With the win, the Cougars’ all-sophomore roster has won its 20th straight event dating back to last season and 11th this year, but now turn their attentions to the state championship and a course that they are very familiar with after winning their third state title and first since 2001: Morro Bay.
“These girls know that golf course better than anybody else in the state that will be playing in that event,” Peterson said. “They are focused on doing their very best and they know what our goal is. I don’t think for the longest time, I haven’t gathered a team together for a first team meeting and told them that our goal is to win a state championship.
Peterson said that the team will have a practice round on Wednesday and work on short game on Friday. The Cougars will leave Saturday morning for a practice round later in the day, then tee off on Sunday and Monday.
This will be the final event that Peterson will coach any of these girls as they are all sophomores, but there’s hope the team will go out on top and continue the program’s excellence.
With the team graduating all of its players, Peterson is will be on the lookout for local female golfers that are willing to uphold the committed success of the program.
The first round of the two-day CCCAA State Championships begin at 8:30 a.m. at Morro Bay Golf Course on Sunday with the second round scheduled to begin on Monday at 8:30 a.m.