NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The reigning Ivy League champion Yale women's golf team begins its title defense Saturday, Mar. 10 in Arizona at the Rio Verde Invitational, one of four tournaments on a highly competitive schedule that should have the Bulldogs well-prepared for the Ivy League Championships in late April. Yale lost a few key components of last year's championship squad to graduation in former All-Ivy selections Cassie Boles, Harriet Owers-Bradley and Alyssa Roland. But Head Coach Chawwadee Rompothong '00 has welcomed three freshmen to the Yale fold in addition to a high-powered corps of returners that turned in solid performances in the fall season, and look to be contenders for the Ancient Eight title yet again.
A strong fall saw the Bulldogs take fourth at the Yale Intercollegiate, ninth against the competitive field at the Nittany Lion Invitational, seventh against a similarly challenging group of opponents at the East Carolina Lady Pirate Invitational, and fifth at the Harvard Invitational. As she did for much of last season, sophomore Seo Hee Moon sparked the Bulldogs this fall. Moon took the Yale Intercollegiate Individual title in a playoff victory, and tied for seventh overall at the Lady Pirate invitational. She was Yale's top finisher at all four fall tournaments. An All-American selection last season, Moon has been identified on numerous national watch-lists, and has won a phenomenal seven individual titles since coming to New Haven just a year and a half ago.
Moon is part of a high-powered sophomore duo, in tandem with Sun Gyoung Park. Park was Yale's low scorer at least season's NCAA East Regional in Daytona, and rounded out a strong fall by turning in the eighth-lowest score of any individual at the Harvard Invitational. Just behind her in that category was junior Alex Lipa, who will also be an integral part of Rompothong's lineup this season. Lipa tied Moon for Yale's best finish at the Nittany Lion Invitational with a tie for 27th, and was just a stroke behind Park at the Harvard Invite.
Captain Lily Boettcher and classmate Callie Kemmer are the lone seniors on the Bulldog roster, and will undoubtedly be counted upon to help fill the void left by last year's impressive senior class. Junior Joy Kim, whose hole-in-one at last year's William and Mary Invitational was one of the highlights of a Yale season full of them, looks to see her role increase this year, as well. And her role was already substantial: Kim played in all five spring tournaments in 2011.
Ghei, Liu and Rouse should get ample opportunities to contribute to the quest for back-to-back championships. Ghei comes to Yale having won India's Ladies Amateur Championship in 2010 and finished runner-up in 2011. She gained experience as a part of the Bulldog five in the Lady Pirate Invitational and Nittany Lion Invitational this fall. Her best finish came at the Harvard Invitational, where she finished 24th among individuals.
Liu, who qualified for the 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur, also had a strong showing in her first months at Yale. She was the Bulldogs' second-best finisher in her first tournament as a Yalie, the Yale Intercollegiate (19th overall).
Rouse comes to New Haven having won the 2011 Missouri Golf Association Women's Junior Championship, and the 2010 Missouri Class A State Championship. She, too, should bolster a small but solid Bulldog corps this spring.
Yale will need every one of its nine golfers this spring, as the schedule that awaits the reigning champs is anything but simple. The Bulldogs kick things off at the Rio Verde Invitational Mar. 10-12 in Arizona, hosted by the University of Western Michigan. Among other teams in the sixteen-team field are the Big XII's Kansas, the Big Ten's Penn State, and the A-10's Xavier.
A comparably competitive field should await Yale at the William and Mary Invitational in Williamsburg, Va., a good test prior to Georgetown's Hoya Invitational and a showdown with a field that usually features a number of Ancient Eight rivals. The Bulldogs' final tuneup before the Ivy League Championships will come in Providence, R.I. at the Brown Invitational April 15, and the Ivy League Championship will be held April 27-29 at Seaview Bay Course in Galloway, N.J.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity