As the Penn women's golf team prepares to tee off its fall season this weekend at the Yale Invitational, its goals are improvement and progress. These are understandable ambitions for a fledgling team in only its second full season as a varsity sport. With the addition of three freshmen and new assistant coach Elizabeth Granahan, an LPGA professional, Penn is poised to compete against the ranks of the Ivy League and beyond. The Quakers are under the guidance of Francis Vaughn, who is in his fifth year at the helm of Penn men's and women's golf. Vaughn feels that progress is the key this year. "We expect to improve upon last year, when we had a good trend going," Vaughn said. "We shot lower each tourney." The Quakers' dedication and commitment has also sparked optimism in Vaughn. "They are diligent about practice habits and steadfast about improving," he said. "They are doing the right things." However, Vaughn realizes the difficulty of golf and that the team might stumble along the way. "Golf is golf," he said. "You can get good or bad breaks, and you have to learn to play your misses." Still, the team has several veteran leaders to turn to in times of distress. Senior captain Jen Schraut, juniors Victoria Entine and Rachel Slosburg and first team All-Ivy sophomore Stacy Kress look to provide leadership to the freshmen. Schraut recognizes that the team should be stronger due to some quality recruits. "The freshmen have more tournament experience than usual," Schraut said. "In general, they have a stronger golf background." The captain also keeps things in perspective, noting that "having fun is key." This weekend's tournament should be a telling barometer of how competitive the Red and Blue will be this year, as it features 18 teams from the Northeast, including Ivy powerhouses Yale and Princeton. The Quakers will compete in the Princeton Invitational next weekend and the Rutgers Invitational the following weekend. The ECAC Championships take place October 21 and 22. Despite their youth, freshmen Lauren Dolan, Jessica Panzell and Valerie Wong are confident that the team will succeed this year. Dolan looks for the team to "get off the ground and start placing this year." Panzell echoed Dolan's optimism. "Although we will still be developing, we should be much more competitive," she said. Women's golf still has to work its way out of the rough and on to the green as it continues to develop. Yet, with the contagious optimism and dedication of this year's Quakers, it may not be long before they are on par with the Elis and the Tigers.Comments powered by Disqus
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