Only two members of last year’s Georgetown University’s Big East runner-up women’s golf squad remain, and joining them for this year are four first-year athletes and one transfer player who brings both potential and uncertainty. Yet, if there were any questions about whether the Hoyas could recapture the team’s previous successes and establish their footing quickly enough for the new season, they were quickly put to rest with a dazzling debut.
Georgetown proved victorious after finishing first following a dominant display at the two-day, three-round William and Mary Invitational on Sept. 11 and 12 against eight other teams. Five individual top-ten finishes powered the Hoyas, who sealed the close victory with a dominant third round after keeping pace with their competition throughout the first two.
Senior captain and all-Big East honoree Megan Gormley and sophomore Angela Lee are the only carryovers from the 2022-23 season. New additions include a crop of young talent in first-years Claire Chen, Jiaying “Jasmine” Lai, Morgan Smith and Vilda Westh Blanc, as well as junior transfer Georgia Ruffolo from Wake Forest University.
Georgetown women’s golf Head Coach Kate Schanuel praised Gormley and Ruffolo for providing the veteran leadership necessary to foster a strong team culture.
“We have two upperclassmen; Georgia is new, a transfer as a junior, and Megan is a senior and she’s been around, so I felt like we had strong leadership,” Schanuel told The Hoya. “It’s also important to know what the road culture is, how we work on the golf course, during practice rounds, how we communicate with each other, support each other.”
“I think we did a really good job preparing ourselves the last two weeks for this,” Schanuel added.
Despite the team’s relative youth, the Hoyas started their tournament at the par-72 Kingsmill Resort River Course in Williamsburg, Va. on a high note. The team flashed some inconsistencies in the first round, as the team’s score of 12-over 300 tied for fourth with William & Mary College among nine total competitors. Still, Georgetown showed promise both in its depth and ability to bounce back quickly.
Lai, who competed with Ruffolo as individuals throughout the invitational, posted a team-best 71 for 1 shot under par to tie for third place with Longwood’s Emma Landis in the round. Gormley struggled to pace herself in the front nine but roared back with a pair of back-to-back birdies to finish at 74 for 2 shots over par.
The second was the turning point for the Hoyas as they jumped out to tie the University of North Carolina at Asheville in first place with a 7-over-295 performance and solid individual scores across the board. Ruffolo and Lai ended the day tied for third at 3-over 147, with Ruffolo adding an exclamation mark to her showing with two eagles. Smith and Chen helped lead the lineup, each finishing the round at 73 for 1 shot over par.
Although Georgetown was in first place heading into round three, the top five teams entered the second day of competition separated by just three strokes. The Hoyas stayed consistent and turned in yet another stellar round of 8-over 296 to claim the win. Gormley turned in a team-best 1-under 71 to tie for second individually for the entire tournament, while Lai, Ruffolo, Smith and Blanc all finished within the top 10. Chen and Lee placed in the top half of the field, tying for 19th and 26th, respectively.
Schanuel said the team’s strong finish is a reflection of the deep talent throughout the lineup.
“The fact that our two individuals moved into the lineup and finished basically top five was huge for us,” Schanuel said. “It just shows our depth as a team, having seven players, two individuals, a couple freshmen that played really well and stepped up when they needed to.”
Schanuel said the team must maintain the same concentration heading into the rest of the fall season to build up for a successful year.
“I just want to focus on the moment,” Schanuel said. “They were making good decisions on the golf course, and they saw the reward of that, so we want to see that carry through to this weekend.”
“We don’t have excuses, we have results,” Schanuel added. “And that’s what we want to keep thinking about when we’re out there, so the fact that they’re working so well together and supporting each other is really, for me, the biggest part right now.”
The Hoyas hope to carry their momentum into Princeton, N.J. for the Princeton Invitational at the Springdale Golf Club on Sept. 16 and 17.