Women’s Golf: Matadors playing well heading into Big West Championship


Andrew Martinez

Under a new head coach, the Matadors have improved their play since last season, and will aim for their best finish since the 2009-2010 season. Photo Credit: File Photo

First year head coach Gina Umeck will attempt to lead Northridge to its best finish since 2010 as the Matadors head to San Luis Obispo Country Club to begin the three-day Big West Championship today.

Under Umeck, the Matadors improved in the 2013-14 season, finishing in the top five in five of eight tournaments, their most top-five finishes since the 2009-10 season.  The Matadors also captured the inaugural Matador Invitational on Feb. 11 at the Wood Ranch Country Club in Simi Valley, with senior Clariss Guce taking the individual trophy.  The victory was the Matadors’ first since taking the CSUB Spring Invitational last March and first victory in a tournament with a larger field since finishing first at the Firestone Grill Intercollegiate Tournament at Cal Poly in October of 2010.

CSUN will look to take down the UC Davis Aggies, who have won the Big West crown for the past four years.  The Matadors did not play in any tournaments with the Aggies this season.  However, CSUN will have to play at their best, as their team-round average of 306 strokes is far behind the Aggies’ average of 297 strokes per round.

Unlike the past three years when the Matadors finished second-to-last in the Big West Tournament, CSUN has been playing much better heading into this year’s tournament.  Guce has enjoyed her best year as a Matador, with three tournament wins and seven top-ten finishes.  In addition to the Matador Invitational, Guce took top honors at the Fresno State Classic on March 18, and tied for first the Wyoming Cowgirl Intercollegiate in Palm Desert on Oct. 13.  Her performance at Palm Desert helped boost the Matadors from seventh to second place on the final day of play.

Newcomers sophomore Arinda Bhanaraksa and freshman Cesilie Hagen have been a large part of the Matadors’ improvement this season, combining for four top-10 finishes, including a pair of top-three finishes.  Bhanaraksa has played well in limited action, averaging 76.9 strokes per round and earning one of the lowest rounds of the season with a tournament-low 69 in the first round of the Matador Invitational.

Hagen grabbed three top-10 finishes on the season and was the only Matador other than Guce to have a team-low score, as she stroked a two-round score of 149 to finish third at the SCU Colby Invitational on Oct. 22 in San Jose.

Despite holding an average of 79 strokes per round on the season, junior Elisabeth Haavardsholm snuck into the top-20 three times this season, and could keep the Matadors competitive if she plays amongst the top three Matadors in San Luis Obispo.  Haavardsholm averaged a 35th place spot this season, but finished as high as sixth at the Matador Invitational with a three round total of 225, stroking a 72-80-73.  Excluding a 72nd and 73rd place finish, Haavardsholm averaged a competitive 23rd place finish.

The Matadors are the No. 5 seed in the Championship, and will be reseeded after today’s results for rounds two and three.