DENVER, Colo. – After 90 holes of golf, the top two teams in the nation advanced out of Friday's semifinals at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Course, and are headed to Saturday's national championship.
No. 2-ranked Saint Leo defeated Wilmington (DE) in the medal/match quarterfinals on Friday morning, before knocking off Lynn in the Friday afternoon semifinals on the match play tiebreaker.
Saint Leo now advances to Saturday's national championship match against Chico State. The Wildcats beat Florida Southern, 4 to 1, in the other semifinal matchup to earn the right to face Saint Leo in Saturday's final.
The Lions won 3-0-2 score over Wilmington the teams' quarterfinal matchup. Griffin Clark, Liam Ainsworth and Joey Savoie all won their matchups while Ryan Gendron and Hugo Bernard tied their rounds. Clark shot a 75 (+3) and won by five strokes over Wilmington's Joey Russo, 80 (+8).
Ainsworth won his matchup by five strokes as he shot three-under par (69) beating Freddy Braun (74). Savoie fired off a five-under 67, to defeat Andreas Lunding by four strokes.
Gendron tied after shooting a 74 (+2), where Bernard tied after shooting a 70 (-2) in the mornings round.
Saint Leo then faced Sunshine State Conference foe Lynn in the semifinals, in a rematch of the 2015 semifinals that ended with a 4 to 1 win for the Fighting Knights. This time, the teams were tied 2-2-1after the five individual matches, with the aggregate strokes tiebreaker tipping the outcome in Saint Leo's favor.
Savoie again won his matchup and Bernard came through big in the second round of 18 on the day. Savoie defeated Lynn's Manuel Torres by one stroke as Savoie came in one under (71) and Torres shot an even par, 72.
Bernard won by five strokes over Elliott Whittley as Bernard fired off a five-under 67 and Whittley had a two-over, 74.
Clark came in first on the course and dropped his matchup by two strokes after he shot a 73 (+1) where the Knights' Matrin Cancino had a 71 (-1).
Ainsworth fell in his matchup by three strokes to Mateo Gomez on Friday. Ainsworth fired off an even-par, 72, where Gomez had a 69 (-3). The duo came into the final three holes with a five-stroke difference in favor of Gomez. Ainsworth hit two birdies on 16 and 18 to cut the deficit to three heading into the clubhouse.
The semifinals came down to the final pairing – Ryan Gendron and Jose Andres Miranda – who walked to the 16th tee with Andres Miranda holding onto a one stroke lead. A par for Gendron and bogey for Andres Miranda on the 16th pulled Gendron all square heading to the 17th. Once again, a par by Gendron and bogey for Andres Miranda would put the Lions ahead 3 to 2 overall as Gendron held the one stroke lead.
Gendron would bogey the 18th as Andres Miranda pared it to tie things back up, 2-2-1, between the Lions and Knights. That triggered the aggreate stroke tiebreaker to determine the outcome, and sent the Lions into the title match.
Saint Leo and Chico State will start match play on Saturday, May 21, at 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time with the first pairing of Ainsworth and Wiles leading off. Gendron will take on Hutchins and tee off second where Savoie and Gearhart will take to the course as the third pairing before Bernard vs Docherty and Clark vs Sullivan.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's golf team, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.