The Eastern Michigan University women’s golf team will try to take advantage of the few warm days left of summer to get the 2013-14 season off on the right foot.
The Eagles enter the season with hopes of claiming the top spot of the Mid-American Conference after finishing tied for the runner up spot with the University of Toledo last year. Kent State University went on to win its 15th straight title back in April. This was the sixth time in program history the Eagles finished second in the conference.
It was an improvement from a pair of third place finishes at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., and the Rio Verde Invitational in Rio Verde, Ariz. Eagle graduate Sarah Johnson was nominated All-MAC first team for the third time in her career while Alyssa Kwon got second-team honors. Kwon was named Academic All-MAC along with All-American Scholar.
The team saw two seniors, Johnson and Meredith Fairbairn, graduate after the 2012-13 campaign. Head Coach Sandy Wagner will have to work with a group mixed with a balanced amount of seniors and underclassmen.
“I’m just excited about the kids,” Wagner said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to experience, but I’m excited about the opportunity.”
There are four seniors on the roster with Wagner nominating Corey Crossan of London, Ontario as the team captain. Crossan was tied for tenth in the MAC Championship and two top ten finishes in all 12 events the team competed in. Coach Sandy Wagner expects Crossan and the rest of the seniors to help out the underclassmen learn the ropes.
“She is going to play a big role,” Wagner said. “All the seniors have experience and the rest of the group will rely on them.”
The squad added to its roster two true freshmen from the Detroit area: Brenna Hammond of West Bloomfield, and Kelsey Murphy of Plymouth.
Murphy played for Plymouth High School, which was at the top of the state ranks in her senior season. Murphy’s high school accomplishments at Plymouth include a Division I individual title back in Oct. 2012 that got her All-State honors as well as two regional championships and the conference titleholder three times. Wagner speaks highly of Murphy.
“Murphy is a solid player,” Wagner said. “I see her stepping up when under pressure in the tournaments.”
Hammond attended Farmington Hills Mercy High School, where she was part of a team that finished in the top ten in the state and graduated with All-State and All-Area honors.
There will also be some newcomers to the team coming from different colleges around the globe. One of them is junior Lauren Stephens from Dublin, Ohio. Stephens transferred from Toledo and will sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Sylvie Williams comes to Ypsilanti from Lincoln University in New Zealand. Williams has experience competing in several amateur events in her home country.
The 2013-14 season will start Sept. 14-15 at East Lansing at the Forest Akers West Golf Course with Michigan State University playing host. Among the schools in the field for the season opening tournament include other MAC members Western Michigan and Ohio.
The Eagles will head to University Park, PA for the Nittany Lion Invitational Sept. 27-29. This is part of the schedule Wagner said would be a test for the team.
“This is a great fall schedule,” Wagner said. “It is very competitive and it is helpful to see where we are with our benchmarks.”
The MAC Preview will take place at Fishers, Ind. Oct. 7-8. The next time the squad will be in Fishers will be for the MAC Championship Apr. 25-27.