If its trip to Florida was any indication, the women’s golf team has reason to be hopeful for the remaining season.

Following a four-month long hiatus, the Bulldogs took care of business in the Sunshine State. After opening up the spring season with a tie for seventh at the Peggy Kirk Invitational in Orlando, the Elis dusted off their winter rust to win the 16-team Snowbird Invitational in Tampa days later.

“After a cold winter spent practicing indoors we were all really excited to hit off of grass and compete in Florida,” Jessica Shapiro ’06 said. “During our first week in Orlando, we practiced really hard, even in torrential downpours for several hours, and we’re seriously ready for anything.”

At the Peggy Kirk Invitational, Yale finished with a three-round total of 953, tying them with Iowa. Host Rollins College took home the title with a 901, 22 strokes ahead of second-place UNC Greensboro. Cindy Shin ’07 led the way with a score of 234, good for a tie for 17th in the individual rankings. Yale’s lone medalist was Shapiro, who rode a 73 in the final round — her lowest one-round score in college — to finish tied for ninth. However, because Shapiro entered the tournament as an individual her solid finish did not count towards Yale’s team score.

The tie for seventh was the Bulldogs’ worst numerical finish of the season. But as Shapiro explains, the Elis were satisfied with their efforts in a competitive field in their first competition since last October.

“It was our first tournament of the spring and it took a round or two for all us to get used to competition again,” Shapiro said. “Considering the long break we had from competition, our team finished well at this tournament. Most importantly, it helped prepare us for our victory in Tampa.”

Shapiro was right. The Bulldogs looked sharp in the sole round at the Snowbird Invitational — rain forced the two-round tournament to be consolidated into one. Despite the stormy weather, Yale shined with a team total of 305 — four shots ahead of second-place Minnesota. The Bulldogs flexed their star power, as Shapiro and January Romero ’06 both shot a 75 to finish in a three-way tie for first with Minnesota’s Terra Petsinger. Ellie Brophy ’08 was one shot out of first, finishing in fourth with a 76. Captain Lauren Ressler ’06 attributed the win to a strong week of practice and a solid short game.

“We expected to play well after practicing so much the week before, but winning the tournament when we have only been back playing for a week was awesome and a pleasant surprise,” Ressler said. “Although everyone was not hitting the ball as well as they would have liked, our short game saved us, especially in the second tournament.”

Coach Mary Moan sees perseverance through rough weather conditions as a theme for the upcoming spring season.

“This team can average 75 every time they go out and it’s simply a matter of relying upon their individual strengths and minimizing their weaknesses during a given round,” Moan said. “We need to be well-prepared this spring for the elements that we will inevitably face and not allow bad weather, cold, rain to be an excuse for not playing our best.”

Yale looks to ride the wave of confidence into its April 2 match against Georgetown in Washington, D.C. But more importantly, the Bulldogs have their eyes set on the April 15 Ivy League Championships. After winning the two previous years, Yale relinquished the title to Princeton at last year’s tournament. In the eight years the Ivy League Championship has taken place, the Elis have finished no worse than second, and have won five times. Yale looks to continue its legacy this season, hoping to reclaim the title from Princeton. Once again, the Tigers pose the Bulldogs with their toughest competition.

While the Ivy League title is only decided in those three days of play, the Bulldogs’ consistent performance in the winter season and strong showing in Florida are reasons to be optimistic.

“The victory at the Snowbird was our third of the year and has given us the confidence needed to win another Ivy title,” Shapiro said. “If we keep playing at the level we reached in Florida, we can definitely reclaim the title.”

But while the ultimate goals are to win the Ivy title and perform well at NCAAs, Moan explains that the Elis must focus on what is in front of them and not worry about the future.

“We try to keep focused on the details and the simplicity of those details so not to become overwhelmed by what winning would mean to us,” Moan said. “If we keep that focus we can continue to lower our stroke average and contend nationally this May.”

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