By Adam Yoder
MISHAWAKA – Experience paid off big on Monday night for the NorthWood girls golf team at Eberhart Golf Course.
The Panthers, led by three seniors and two juniors, fired a 172 to edge a youthful, deep, and talented Warsaw Tigers squad (185) and the host Cavemen (234). With the two wins, coach Adam Yoder’s squad improved to 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference.
Per usual, the Panthers relied on Cybil Stillson (36) and Breanna Goss (43) to set the pace on a lengthy front nine on the links just off Lincolnway. Riley Kitson’s (45) gave the Panthers a twelve-shot cushion after the first three groups had finished.
All three were All-NLC in some form last season.
“Those three know how to handle themselves in these matches, and that is certainly a luxury for us. I have an immense amount of trust in them because we’ve all been through it together for so long,” Yoder said.
Stillson’s even par round extended her hot streak over the last two weeks. She now is a total of five under par over her last 63 holes of tournament golf.
While Goss was doing a television interview about an upcoming feature, the fours and fives were still on the course, and the lead wasn’t nearly enough for the Panther faithful to be comfortable.
There was no need to worry, though, as Bella Sechrist carded a 48 to count as the fourth score for the Panthers, while Kira Schrock bounced back after a rough start to card a 57.
Yoder continued to beam about his experienced group. “Over the last three weeks, the improvements we have seen mentally and technically have just been outstanding. None of us, coaches and players, believe we’ve totally peaked yet, performance-wise either, so that’s a good thing to have that out there and keep chasing.”
Coach David James’ Tigers were led once again by the outstanding play of Olivia Robinson-Gay, who was elevated to the number one spot for the match and stood toe-to-toe with Stillson, only being down one shot with two holes to play and finished with a 41.
Robinson-Gay (40.8) is currently second in the NLC in 9-hole in-conference scoring average, sandwiched between Stillson (34.0) and Goss (41.0).
Marie Frazzetta (48) and Delaney Byron (47) stayed away from the big numbers along the St. Joseph River. Neither played a hole with a score worse than six.
Abbey Peterson (49) and Abigail Davis (52) combined to defeat Schrock and Sechrist, but with only one score counting from each player, it wasn’t enough.
The host Cavemen were led by Sarah Burns’s 54.
Juli Blosser of NorthWood was the lone JV player in the match and tallied a 65.
The Tigers will try to finish off the NLC regular season slate with only a single blemish on Thursday night at Stonehenge Golf Club versus Northridge and Wawasee.
In a scheduling twist of fate, the Panthers will try to topple Concord senior night on Thursday at McCormick Creek Golf Course in Nappanee to finish unbeaten in the NLC for the ninth time in the last ten years. The only team to beat the Panthers in a nine-hole match during that decade: Concord, last fall.
NorthWood will honor seniors Blosser, Goss, Sechrist and Stillson before and after that match.
Before the favorited Tigers and Panthers match-up in the NLC tournament in September at Bent Oak golf club in Elkhart, they will see each at this Saturday’s loaded field in the Lafayette Jeff Invitational at Battle Ground Golf Club near Lafayette.