No. 23 Women's Golf Travels to Washington for NCAA West Regional
May 5, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 23 Michigan State women's golf team heads to Cle Elum, Washington, this week for the 2014 NCAA West Regional, which is set for Thursday-Saturday (May 8-10) at the par 72, 6,252-yard Tumble Creek Golf Club at Suncadia Resort.
The Spartans, who are playing in their 16th consecutive NCAA Regional, enter the NCAA West Regional as the No. 8 seed after capturing a share of the Big Ten title with Ohio State; there is no playoff to determine a conference champion in the Big Ten. MSU officially received the Big Ten's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals on the tiebreaker, which goes to the team with the lowest cumulative score for all six golfers (format of the Big Ten Championships for team score is play six, count four).
The NCAA Women's Golf Championships are divided into three regional sites and conclude with the finals May 20-23 at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Each regional site hosts 24 teams and six individuals, with the top eight teams and two individuals in each region advancing to the finals. The tournament format is 54 holes over three days (play five, count four); live scoring will be available at Golfstat.com and NCAA.com.
MSU will be looking to make its third consecutive appearance and 12th overall at the NCAA Championships with a top-eight finish at the NCAA West Regional. The Spartans have participated in the NCAA Championships nine out of the last 14 years.
"The pictures just look gorgeous," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said of the Suncadia Resort. "The golf course looks great; it was designed by Tom Doak, who is a very famous golf architect. We're very excited to get out there. I feel very good that we will have a wonderful chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships."
Michigan State will be starting seniors Allyssa Ferrell, Christine Meier and Liz Nagel, red-shirt freshman Gabby Yurik, and freshman Kelly Grassel in the NCAA West Regional. It marks the fourth time Ferrell and Meier have been in the starting lineup for MSU at the NCAA Regionals, and it's the third appearance for Nagel.
"Every shot counts," said Ferrell on what she's learned from playing in the postseason her first three seasons. "Even when you think you might not be counting (toward the team score), you could be. Every little thing counts. That's what you have to have in your mind, (that) I still have to keep fighting because one stroke can make a difference."
"For us, we have a way of just being on the edge, every single time," said Nagel. "This year, we're like `let's do well in the first and second round so the third one isn't so nerve wracking.' We had enough nerves (at the Big Ten Championships) - the last round was enough for a lifetime for me - so let's just go out there and post those good numbers early on and we won't even have to worry about it."
Michigan State's 16 straight NCAA appearances is the second-longest streak in the Big Ten (Ohio State, 20). The Spartans have twice placed third at the NCAA Regionals, in 2001 and 2004. The best individual finish came in 2012 when Lindsey Solberg tied for third. MSU advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second straight year last season by placing eighth at the NCAA Central Regional in Norman, Oklahoma.
ABOUT THE SPARTANS
Nagel and Ferrell are both ranked in the top 100 by Golfweek (Nagel: No. 78, Ferrell: No. 87) and Golfstat (Nagel: No. 94, Ferrell: No. 97). The senior trio has multiple years of postseason experience and has played in the last two NCAA Championships.
Although this is the first NCAA tournament for the freshmen, Grassel and Yurik both placed in the top 10 in their first Big Ten Championships two weeks ago.
MSU has won two tournaments this season (Mary Fossum Invitational Sept. 15 in East Lansing, Michigan; Big Ten Championships April 28 in French Lick, Indiana). The Spartans also have top-five finishes at the Lady Buckeye Invitational April 20 in Columbus, Ohio (tied for second), and at the Central District Invitational Feb. 18 in Lakewood Ranch, Florida (third). In addition, MSU went 3-0 to win the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic "Black" match play bracket April 6 in Athens, Georgia.
HEAD COACH Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll
MSU has won 33 tournaments during Slobodnik-Stoll's tenure, and over the last 17 years, her players have earned All-Big Ten honors 38 times, including 23 first-team selections. She was named the 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time in her career she was won the award (2001, 2007).
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
In addition, since the inception of the conference championships in 1974, only Ohio State (15) has won more league titles than the Spartans (11). MSU won five consecutive Big Ten titles from 1974-78, and has also won conference crowns in 1982, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2014. In the Big Ten record books, MSU is credited with six Big Ten Championships, as the conference did not officially sanction women's sports until 1982.
FERRELL'S CLUTCH PUTT LEADS SPARTANS TO BIG TEN TITLE
Needing to sink a birdie putt on the last hole with Michigan State down one stroke, senior Allyssa Ferrell drained a 9-footer on the tournament's final shot to clinch a share of the Big Ten Championship for the Spartans.
"It was the best college golf finish that I've ever been a part of," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, who won her fifth Big Ten title. "In sports, those are the moments that you live for. There's never been a moment where I'm with a kid on the 18th green and they have to make a 9-foot putt to win the conference championship."
Michigan State entered the final round tied with Ohio State, and the two teams didn't get much separation from each other over the last 18 holes. Although MSU led by three strokes at the turn and the Buckeyes went up by two shots down the stretch, the teams remained deadlocked with the last group teeing off on the par 5, 470-yard No. 18. It would not only come down to the last hole, but the last shot.
Ohio State's Jessica Porvasnik, who claimed medalist honors, drilled a 22-foot birdie putt to give the Buckeyes a one-shot advantage, setting the stage for Ferrell's heroics.
"After Jessica made that 20-footer, Allyssa and I were reading the putt on the other side (of the green)," said Slobodnik-Stoll. "Allyssa turned to me and said, `We're still tied, right?' She knew she had to make it - and it went right in the middle. It was awesome. After the first long putt, the crowd was going crazy, but then Allyssa made it, and the Spartan fans went even crazier. For Allyssa to come through in that clutch moment, those are things you can't teach. She believed in herself."
The Spartans trailed the Buckeyes by one stroke heading into the final hole, but tied it after Liz Nagel recorded a birdie in the No. 3 group.
Four Spartans placed in the top 10, paced by Ferrell's fifth-place showing, which equaled her career-best finish at the conference championships. She also tied for fifth last season. Ferrell finished at 8-over-par with a 224 (74-75-75) and was named to the All-Championships Team for the second consecutive year.
In her third appearance in the starting lineup at the Big Ten Championships, Nagel tied for ninth place with an 11-over 227 (79-73-75), marking her best career finish at the tournament. Junior Lindsey McPherson, who made her Big Ten Championships debut, placed a career-high ninth by also carding a 227 (76-75-76). Senior Christine Meier tied for 18th with a 230 (76-77-77).
The Spartans and Buckeyes won the tournament by 10 shots over third-place Northwestern.
FERRELL LEADS MSU AT BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
She established a 54-hole school record after carding a 9-under 207 (71-67-69) at the Central District Invitational in February and shared medalist honors. In the second round of the CDI, she tied a school single-round record with a 5-under 67, including five birdies. She was also named the Big Ten Women's Co-Golfer of the Week for her efforts at Lakewood Ranch, Florida. In addition, Ferrell placed in the top 10 at the Fossum Invitational (sixth) and Bryan National Collegiate (tied for ninth) during the regular season.
At the Big Ten Championships, Ferrell made a 9-foot birdie putt on the last shot of the tournament to clinch a share of the conference title for the Spartans. She placed fifth overall with an 8-over 224 and was named to the Big Ten All-Championships Team for the second straight season.
Ferrell's 74.54 average currently ranks ninth lowest in an MSU single season. She ranks second on the team with 59 birdies (2.11 avg.) and tied for second with six rounds of under-par. Her career average of 76.06 stands at sixth best in the history of the program.
NAGEL: FIRST-TEAM ALL-BIG TEN
Nagel shot a career-low 3-under-par 213 (71-70-72) at the Central District Invitational in February, the eighth-lowest 54-hole score in program history, to tie for 10th place. She also tied for fifth at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tennessee, on Sept. 22, tied for fourth at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Oct. 27, and tied for ninth at the Big Ten Championships.
During match play at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Georgia, Nagel won all three of her matches to help lead MSU to a first-place finish in the "Black" bracket.
The DeWitt, Michigan, native leads the team with 61 birdies this season (2.18 avg.) and ranks tied for second with six under-par rounds. Her career average of 75.77 currently ranks fifth lowest in school history. Nagel was a second-team all-league selection as a sophomore in 2012.
Nagel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in November 2012 and had surgery in late December 2012. Last spring, although she was undergoing treatments, she only missed one tournament and remained in the starting lineup. Nagel used the phrase "Spartan Strong" to inspire herself and her teammates during her fight against cancer, which is now in remission.
Nagel shot a career-low 68 in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Central Regional to help lead the Spartans to the NCAA Championships. Her round of 68 tied for the third-lowest single round in MSU history. Overall, Nagel led MSU at the NCAA Central Regional with a 1-over 217, which tied for 11th place.
The two lowest rounds of Nagel's career have arrived in the clutch - in addition to her 68 in the 2013 NCAA Central Regional that helped propel the Spartans to the NCAA Championships, she carded a 69 in the third round of the 2012 NCAA East Regional to push MSU into a tie for sixth place and a trip to nationals.
MEIER MAKING HER FOURTH APPEARANCE AT REGIONALS
GRASSEL MAKING THE MOST OF HER FRESHMAN SEASON
YURIK FINISHING STRONG FOR MSU
DRAMATIC FINISHES AT REGIONALS FOR SPARTANS
In 2012, MSU advanced to the NCAA Championships after a record-setting third round at the NCAA East Regional on May 12 in State College, Pennsylvania. Needing a top-eight finish at the 24-team regional to reach nationals, the Spartans vaulted from 12th place to a tie for sixth in the third and final round after carding a 5-under-par 283, tying for the second-best round in program history. Senior Lindsey Solberg led the Spartans in the final round by shooting a 5-under-par 67, which at that time set a school single-round record; it is still tied for the lowest round in school history.
Last year, the ninth-seeded Spartans edged out eighth-seeded North Carolina State by one stroke and fourth-seeded Washington by two strokes for the eighth and final spot to nationals. MSU, which began the third round in a tie for ninth place, shot a 4-over-par 292 on the last day to finish at 20-over 884 (291-301-292) in the 54-hole tournament.
The Spartans were in 10th place most of the round, but rallied down the stretch to put themselves in position for a top-eight finish. Over the final six holes, Michigan State carded a team score of 2-under-par to push past North Carolina State and Coastal Carolina.
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