Lady Eagles look for breakthrough win at NCCAA Invitational
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 19, 2012) – The tournament runner-up trophies earned by Oklahoma Christian’s women’s golf team fill coach Greg Lynn’s office. Six times in the program’s two years of existence, OC has finished in second place.
Lynn believes that elusive win is well within the grasp of the Lady Eagles as they approach their biggest tournament of the year, the NCCAA Invitational, which will run Monday and Tuesday at The Hombre Golf Club’s Edgewater Beach Resort, set up as a par-71, 6,023-yard course.
OC, in its first year of NCCAA membership, is among nine squads invited to the tournament, which technically isn’t a national championship, although the NCCAA plans for it to become one by 2014. No matter the name of the event, Lynn said he and his team are treating it as if a national title is at stake – and the Lady Eagles would like nothing more than for their first title to be at a national tournament.
“I’m looking at it as a national,” Lynn said. “If we win it, we’re going to get rings and a banner.”
Besides OC, the field will include Heartland Conference rivals Dallas Baptist (Texas) and McMurry (Texas), along with Bethel (Ind.), California Baptist, Emmanuel (Ga.), North Greenville (S.C.), Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) and Shorter (Ga.). Dallas Baptist won the inaugural NCCAA event in 2011.
The Lady Eagles have faced half of those teams during their four previous tournaments this fall. OC was the runner-up to Dallas Baptist in the Hawks Creek Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas, and beat McMurry in the same tournament. OC also was the runner-up in the Grand Canyon Fall Invitational in Litchfield Park, Ariz., with Point Loma Nazarene 10th and California Baptist 11th.
At last year’s NAIA Championship in Greeneville, Tenn., Shorter finished fifth, one spot ahead of OC, while Point Loma Nazarene was 20th.
“Those are all good programs,” Lynn said. “You can still play well and lose. But if you play well and lose, so what? It’s when you play mediocre and throw it away that’s consistently the problem. That’s why we haven’t won. We have never, as a team, played well, not one time.
“We have to play as a team, for the first time ever, really. We’ve got to do for both rounds and it’s got to be better than we’ve played before. Are we capable? Yes. If they all step up and play how they can play, we’ve got a really good chance of winning. If they don’t, we’re going to be in the middle of the pack.”
The Lady Eagles have probably the most accomplished player in the field in sophomore Anna Arrese Cortadellas, who has won the last three NCCAA women’s golf student-athlete of the week awards. Arrese Cortadellas has a 73.5 stroke average, tied for 11th nationally among programs either in NCAA Division II or the Division II membership process.
In her 10 career college tournaments, she’s won four times and has been the runner-up three other times while never finishing lower than sixth.
Lynn also has been pleased with the emergence of freshman Audrey Meisch as a solid No. 5 player for OC, one who can more than occasionally contribute to the team score.
Lynn said OC’s tendency in the past has been for Arrese Cortadellas and one other player to post strong scores, but not for all five of the Lady Eagles to play well on the same day. He said OC’s success at the NCCAA event likely will come down to whether the Lady Eagles’ other players – Sarah Harper, Morgan Dockery and Catherine Odgers – can each put together two solid rounds.
Each certainly has had outstanding moments. Harper’s 76.3 stroke average ranks ninth in the Heartland Conference. Dockery shot a 73 in the second round of the Hawks Creek tournament – the lowest score of any player in the entire event – and earned All-Sooner Athletic Conference honors last season. Odgers led the Lady Eagles in the first round of their most recent tournament, the Oklahoma City University Stars Fall Classic.
“Shorter is good. Dallas Baptist is good,” Lynn said. “In order for us to win, we have to play differently than we’ve ever played before. We have always played, basically, as Anna and somebody. One day it’s Cat. One day it’s Sarah. One day it’s Morgan. We can’t do that. We have to have all four or five girls give us a (good) score.
“Hopefully, we peak and we get the play out of the girls that we need.”