BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - It truly was a ‘Win one for the Gipper’ moment for Saint Leo Women’s Golf Coach Erika Danford and her five golfers on Monday.

The ladies, without their coach, kicked off the 2009 season by winning their first-ever tournament, finishing at the top of the 11-team field in the Ann Rhoads Southern Shootout hosted by Birmingham-Southern College.

Coach Danford, who was preparing to guide her team in their first championship-season tournament together after she joined the Lions in the fall, suffered a death in her family the day before the team was to depart for Alabama. As a result, Interim Swim Coach Kathy Lavery stepped in and helped get the team to the Timberline Golf Club.

After that, it was up to the five Lions to make their coach proud, and to do something that no women’s golf team has ever done at Saint Leo.

After an impressive first day had them in second place, the Lions leapt over Berry College on the second day as they shot a second-day 319 to finish four strokes ahead of second-place West Florida.

The Lions first-ever win saw SLU tie a program record with three players, Goeun Lee, Kristina Carvalho and Anna Riss post scores under 80 for the day’s total.

Lee shot a tournament total 77-78--155 to finish in fifth-place while Riss shot 78-79--157 to finish in a tie for sixth.

Carvalho recovered from a poor first-day showing to shoot 85-78--163 finishing in a tie for 15th.

The Lions were rounded out by Tricia Maloney who finished 24th, shooting 86-85--171 and Meghan Costello who shot 88-84--172 to finish in 26th.

The win is a much-needed regional victory over some quality NCAA South Region opponents with UWF, Montevallo and West Georgia all finishing behind the Lions.

The Lions will now travel to North Carolina next weekend to play in the Saint Andrews Spring Invitational, hosted by Saint Andrews College and played at the Woodlake Golf Resort.  Saint Leo will try to go for two-in-a-row on March 2nd.