With NCAA Bid, Progress Continues for UCF Women's Golf

May 2, 2012

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By John Denton, Knights Insider

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - If the progress of the UCF's women's golf team were on a flow chart, the direction would show a dazzling upswing. In a matter of three seasons, the Knights have gone from eighth to fifth to second in Conference USA.

But in the opinion of head coach Courtney Trimble, the Knights are just getting started as it relates to their vast potential. There are no seniors on the freshman-dominated squad, but Trimble sees no reason why UCF can't play well in the NCAA Regionals next week and ultimately make its way into the NCAA National Championships.

``It's been exciting for me and (assistant coach) Mary (Bryan) to build the program here. We knew the potential here at UCF with the great facility we have and the golf courses that we play,'' Trimble said. ``It helped having a great recruit coming in (Katie Mitchell) with the veteran players that we already had. So it's just a matter of everybody clicking. It's very enjoying to see the player realize how good they can be. That's such a big part of reestablishing a program.

``We've beaten some really good teams this year and I think the players realize, `Hey, we can be just as good as some of the best teams in the country when we go to some of these tournaments,''' Trimble continued.

UCF's promising women's golf team, the nation's 38th-ranked squad, will head to the NCAA Regionals on May 10-12 at Penn State's Blue Course. As the 13th seed, the Knights will be one of 24 teams looking to nab a top-eight finish to advance to the NCAA Championship.

Trimble feels that UCF's success during the season when it won two tournaments for the first time since 2001 and a runner-up finish at the C-USA Championship will help calm the young team's nerves next week at Penn State. And the coach sees no reason why the Knights can't thrive against some of the nation's top teams in the regional.

``I think we have a great potential. Obviously it's our first time getting to the regionals with the players on this team and there will be some nerves,'' Trimble said. ``But their goal is to get to the national championship and we're going to do what it takes. We just have to minimize the mistakes and get a few putts to fall and if that happens our chances are as good as anybody's.''

UCF is confident largely because of the talent of its top three players, Katie Mitchell, Carolin Pinegger and Monifa Sealy, all of which earned All-C-USA honors. And what is most promising to the Knights is that Mitchell and Sealy are freshmen, while Pinegger is a junior.

Mitchell, a Fernandina Beach native, became just the second UCF player ever to win the C-USA Freshman of the Year award this season. She finished third in the C-USA tourney, had six top 10 finishes and led the team with a 74.6 stroke average during the year. And her talents showed during the UCF Challenge when she fired a three-under 69 to help the Knights post their lowest team score in school history.

Mixed with all of that talent and ball striking ability, Mitchell has an inner fire that drives her to succeed, Trimble said. The freshman's competitive nature has been infectious throughout the team.

``She's really consistent and a great ball-striker. But she is really a competitor and is one of the most competitive players that I've ever coached. She doesn't want to lose at anything. If we're just having a little nine-hole match in practice, she is really not happy at all if her team loses. And when the game is on she brings the A game and is so competitive.''

Sealy, of Trinidad and Tobago, had a team-best seven rounds this season at par or below. The freshman finished sixth in her first C-USA Tournament and had three top 10 finishes during the season. Pinneger, a native of Germany, is known for her steadiness and maturity. She was a third-team All-C-USA pick, her third such selection. She had seven top-20 finishes during the season, was 12th in the C-USA tourney and also fired a low round of 69 during the regular season.

``Carolin has gotten better every year. She's an extremely consistent ball-striker,'' Trimble said. ``In the spring she finally started sinking some putts. And she's really aware of her own game. She's matured every year.''

Trimble's confident that UCF will hold up well in the NCAA Regionals because of the steely resolve it showed during the regular season. UCF won the Lady Northern Invitational in French Lick, Ind., and the Knights and Pirates Invitational in nearby Melbourne by rallying on the final day of the two competitions. Those performances and the runner-up run at the C-USA Championship prepared the Knights to make a deep postseason run, Trimble said.

``Any time you can win a golf tournament that's big because it's difficult to win one. You have so many teams there, so when you win one there's a great sense of accomplishment,'' she said. ``We were fortunate to come from behind in both of our victories and I think that helped us. But our players have been driven all year to fight it out to the end and end up on top.''