West Ranch Wildcat girls’ golf had fallen just a few strokes short of the Valencia Vikings in its two opening Foothill League matches.
However, the Wildcats stormed back in the third league match and have jumped out in front after the team’s 199-stroke performance last week at the Oaks Club.
Kathryn Mong and Kate Yi led the Cats with 38-stroke outings (+2), while teammates Naomi Kim and freshman Eva Lee finished with 40 strokes.
Mong has now led West Ranch in three straight league matches and medaled in both of Valencia’s league match wins.
“The great thing for us has been Kathryn Mong,” said Wildcats coach Jeff Holen in a phone interview. “She’s the engine pulling the train right now. As a sophomore, watching her game step up has been great.”
Coincidentally, in West Ranch’s win, Valencia senior Jillian Leh earned her first league medal of the season after tallying 37 strokes (+1) with two birdies.
However, other than Leh it was an off day for the steady Vikes. Kara An ended the day with 40 strokes while Kiara Jang and Lauren Silva posted 43-stroke outings.
For Saugus, Khloe Guerrero again led the charge and finished with 42 strokes.
West Ranch trailed Valencia by five strokes in the team standings but now takes an eight-stroke lead after the big day at the Oaks Club. The team was forced to score all five participating golfers after Wildcats senior Ashmita Goel suffered an ankle injury early in the day. Goel was a key piece of the Cats’ scoring but Holen was yet again impressed by his freshman Lee stepping in and scoring well.
“Our freshman Eva Lee, we didn’t know what we were gonna get out of her,” Holen said. “She was nervous about playing high school golf but she’s been a contributor. Great start for a freshman coming in doing that.”
Holen was quick to speak highly of the girls’ camaraderie not only on his team but across the league. Golfers from Canyon, Valencia and West Ranch recently practiced together, and split into teams with one Cowboy, Viking and Wildcat on each, displaying the coherency and sportsmanship of the league.
“In our league, the girls get along so well,” Holen said. “The camaraderie across the board is great.”
Holen knows it’ll take the whole team to hold off Valencia as well as one big thing.
“Consistency,” Holen said. “Keeping our numbers bunched and not giving away strokes off mistakes. Just doing the basic things, and getting those right every time, that’s what’ll make us a winner or allow Valencia to win.”
The league may very well come down to a stroke or two, and Holen is looking forward to seeing his and Valencia coach Robert Waters’ teams shoot for the title.
“Oh, it’s gonna be fun,” Holen said. “Everything is so close in our scores. All coaches love to win, but competitive wins or losses to me builds character in the girls.”
Foothill League teams return to the Oaks Club for round four on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.