New Mexico Lobos Women’s Golf 2013-14 Season Review
The goal at the beginning of the 2013-14 season was never a deep, dark secret clouded by a protective layer of psychology to protect a golf team bulging with youth and inexperience.
Coach Jill Trujillo laid it on the line.
She placed her three Mountain West Championship rings on her desk and challenged this year’s Lobos to go get one of their own and ride that league title to another goal – the NCAA Tournament.
And that’s exactly what her Lobos did.
“I knew this team could win and the fact that they picked the conference champion to win, well, I’m not going to frown on that at all,” said Trujillo. “It was a great feat to win the conference tournament with three freshmen in the lineup.”
The title – the first and only win of the season – came to the Lobos on April 26 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the Lobos played the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club one shot better than San Jose State.
“In golf, you have to come together at the right time and try to win as a team,” said senior Sammi Stevens.
For sure, the Lobos were clutch as they played the back-nine on a windblown course that isn’t easy on a calm day of sunshine.
“I think this team held together and played tougher than any other team I’ve had,” said Trujillo. “We actually won the tournament by making some huge bogeys. Manon De Roey and Katerina Jaeger made bogeys coming out of a water hazard. Those could have easily been double bogeys. Manon Mollé had to par the final four holes for us to win.
“This team just had a tough spirit and it came through at the end. It was the finish I had been waiting for the whole year.”
Yeah, it was timely. Trujillo’s Lobos knew that the only way they would play in the NCAA Tournament was by grabbing the 2014 Mountain West title. And these Lobos, and Trujillo, were hungry to return to NCAA play after missing the field in 2013. The Lobos finished 15th at the West Regional missing the top-eight cut that advanced teams to the NCAA finals.
The Lobos’ second-best finish this past season were two fourth-place cards posted at the Colonel Wollenberg’s Ram Classic hosted by Colorado State and again at the Juli Inkster Spartan Invite.
“We were a little bit up and down, but the majority of the season we had three freshmen in the lineup,” said Trujillo. “We kept looking for a lineup that worked. You want a lineup where all five golfers are reaching for the same goal and we accomplished that at the end of the year.”
The lineup Trujillo took to the Mountain West Championships and NCAA play featured two seniors in Sammi Stevens and Manon De Roey and three freshmen in Manon Mollé, Katerina Jaeger and Eva Saulnier. The 2013-14 roster also included freshman Kalyn Thayer, senior Dea Mahendra and senior Sofia Hoglund.
Stevens ended the 2013-14 season with her career-best scoring average of 73.59, which also was the best on the team. De Roey also had her career-best average at 74.31.
“You always hate to lose great seniors and Sammi and Manon were so special to this program,” said Trujillo. “I watched them grow from wide-eyed, 18-year-old freshmen into confident and independent young women. They were true leaders all year and I expect them to have great success on the professional tours they play.”
Stevens entered the season with goals to win a MW title and return to NCAA play, but the talented Lobo also had a monkey to slap off her back. She was looking for her first collegiate win. She got it in March at the Juli Inkster Spartan Classic where the golfer sometimes called “Steady Stevens” threw out a trio of 71s to take individual honors.
“I have been close so many times that it kind of wears on you,” she said after the win. “After a while, you start thinking, “Isn’t it about time?”
Said Coach Trujillo of the win: “You can only be a bridesmaid so many times.”
Stevens also was runner-up by a shot at Colorado State’s tourney in September and maybe the next best charge at a title was Mollé at the Mountain West Championships. Mollé worked herself to the top of the leaderboard much like Stevens had in getting her win. Mollé went 71-71 at the MW chase to share the lead going into the final 18 holes.
Mollé carded a 79 to finish fifth, but her four pars down the stretch were keys to New Mexico grabbing the team title. She was the top UNM finisher by two shots. Mollé tied Stevens for top Lobo honors at the West Regional held in Cle Elum, Washington.
To put Mollé’s first-season scoring average of 75.69 into perspective, consider this: Stevens’ average as a freshman was 76.32 and De Roey’s was 77.90.
“I was so impressed by the steadiness that I saw in Manon,” said Trujillo. “She made a lot of improvement from the first semester to the second and most of the improvement was figuring out how to control her emotions on the golf course.
“She is going to be quite a force in the future and the coaches in the conference recognized that as well when they voted her all-conference honors. You always have to have a top gun and if you get two you are lucky. She is going to be a good leader for us.”
Stevens was named to the Mountain West First Team and Mollé was placed on the MW Second Team with De Roey.