St. Francis girls golf team claims NorCal crown for 4th consecutive year

Courtesy of Phil Marrone
The Lancers – clockwise, from left, Grace Chen, Reisha Savadatti, Bibi Liu, Jacqueline “Doodle” Yuen, Aishvarya Bedi and Maya Pugatch – celebrate their NorCal win.

Although last week’s win marked the fourth year in a row that the St. Francis High girls golf team has captured the Northern California championship, it has not become so routine that the Lancers don’t revel in their achievement.

“They celebrated like a bunch of high school girls, being silly and taking crazy photos,” coach Phil Marrone said. “They were having a great time.”

The weather at last year’s event, also held at The Club at Crazy Horse Ranch in Salinas, wasn’t as conducive to celebrations – it was a stormy day that included a lightning delay. That helps explain how the Lancers sliced 27 strokes off their team score from a year ago.

St. Francis shot 382 to beat runner-up Dougherty Valley by five strokes Nov. 7. And that was after the Lancers were penalized two strokes because a player entered the putting green before she was supposed to, according to Marrone, who added that Valley Christian was assessed the same penalty.

Of the 12 teams competing at NorCal, St. Francis was the lone squad to have five players shoot under 80 on the par-72 course.

“The girls played great on a difficult course,” said Marrone, whose team defended its Central Coast Section championship the week before. “It’s not overly long, but it has small greens. That’s not a problem for my girls, because most of them are accurate hitters – they stick (the ball) where they want to stick it.”

Junior Maya Pugatch led the Lancers with a 2-over-par 74, tying four other golfers for fourth place individually.

“Maya was really solid,” Marrone said.

Senior teammate Bibi Liu was close behind, shooting 75 to finish in a three-way tie for ninth. Freshman Jacqueline “Doodle” Yuen shot 76 (three-way tie for 12th), junior Reisha Savadatti came in at 77 (seven-way tie for 15th) and freshman Aishvarya Bedi carded a 78 (five-way tie for 22nd).

St. Francis advanced to Tuesday’s state championships, played after the Town Crier’s press deadline, at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga.

“We’d like to beat a Southern California team for once – all three, really,” said Marrone, whose team finished last in the six-team competition last year and fifth the year before. “If we’re going to do it, this may be our best chance; this is the strongest team we’ve ever had.”

Pinewood freshman Chou finishes in middle of pack

Pinewood School freshman Megan Chou – the only other local golfer at NorCal – shot 85 to finish in an eight-way tie for 46th. Eighty-eight golfers participated in the event.

Chou qualified for NorCal by placing third at CCS.

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