SAINT LEO, Fla. – Fresh off of the best fall season in the program’s history, the Saint Leo women’s golf team looks to continue the momentum into their hardest Championship Season to date. Highlighted by five tournaments, including two new events, the Lions will compete in a total of fourteen rounds over ten competition days.
“This spring is going to be a battle from start to finish,” second-year Head Coach Erika Brennan remarked. “This is the first time our team has expectations to contend in every event—we’re fired up to get things underway.”
Indeed, the Lions will get things started when they travel to Kiawah Island, S.C. to compete in the 8th Annual Tusculum College/Kiawah Island Women’s Intercollegiate on February 6th. A total of twenty teams will compete in the 36-hole event at Cougar Point Golf Club including plenty of Sunshine State Conference competition in the likes of Barry, Florida Southern and Lynn; as well as South Region competition in Newberry, Wingate and Carson Newman. This is a new event for the Lions, and senior Anna Riss, currently 17th in the nation for Division II golfers, will look to continue her stellar senior campaign.
After an impressive fall season, Riss looks to lead the Lions five as she begins her final Championship season of what has become an amazing career. The record-holder for the lowest round ever recorded at Saint Leo (71 in the 2009 Flagler Fall Slam), the Berlin, Germany native sees her name at the top of nearly every record in the Saint Leo women’s golf record book. Since she is a leader on the scoreboard, the other Lions will look toward her leadership in the clubhouse as well.
After returning from South Carolina, the Lions will rest for the remainder of February before traveling to The Club at Eaglebrook in Lakeland, Fla. on March 1st to compete in the 10th Annual Lady Moc Invitational hosted by SSC rival Florida Southern. The closest tournament to their home course that the Lions will compete in, they will tee it up in the 54-hole event being played over two days. Although SLU did not compete in this event in 2009, the course will still be very familiar for Riss, and junior Kristina Carvalho as both competed here two years ago. The field will be loaded with talent as many of the nation’s Top-25 teams will be in attendance.
No rest for the weary as one week later the team travels to Orlando, Fla. to play in the 34th Annual Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational hosted by Rollins College. A break-out event for the squad a year ago, the team will take advantage of their previous experience at Tuscawilla Country Club as they compete alongside the top-team in the country in host Rollins, as well as 2nd-ranked Nova Southeastern. Another 54-hole event, the Lions will play 36-holes on day one and follow it up with the final 18 on day two.
“Last year, Anna proved that she could compete with anybody when she finished seventh individually in this very strong field,” said Brennan, “She loved Tuscawilla and it sets up nicely with her game.”
After a two week break, the squad will return to action when they travel to Juliette Falls Golf Club in Ocala, Fla. to compete in a Division I event hosted by Morehead State University. A new event for the Lions, this rare four-day event is set-up in the style of the South Region Tournament. Saint Leo will compete with their traditional five-person team, but in an unusual shift, they will also bring along an individual player as well.
Brennan explains the situation, “The rationale behind bringing an extra individual is that it allows me to see who is peaking at the right time – to see six girls in tournament pressure instead of five in our final event before conference.”
The Sunshine State Conference Championship will be contested at Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, Florida April 19-20. The Lions finished 6th a year ago, but will look to finish strong and make a final push for the post-season.
If the Lions are where coach Brennan expects them to be by the time they reach the final round of the Sunshine State Conference Championships, the SLU season will be far from over. We will see when the Green & Gold first tees it up in South Carolina on February 6th.