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Quakers sophomore Stacy Kress finished fifth overall at Ivies last April. (Andrew Margolies/DP File Photo)

Despite what the weather early this week has indicated, spring is just around the corner. And with the start of spring comes the start of the second season for the Penn women's golf team. Penn coach Francis Vaughn, who heads up the men's and women's programs, and the Penn golfers are looking to continue the gradual progress the team made last semester. "I think we're going to be much improved from the fall," Penn freshman Jessica Penzell said. "We've been working hard in the offseason to improve our games on the course." In their last tournament of the fall, the Quakers finished in the middle of the pack with a team score of 697. It was their second finish under 700 in three fall meets. They also notched their first ever top-five finish, placing fifth in a field of 15 teams at the Princeton Invitational in October by shooting a school-record two-day total of 689. "We want to improve our games individually and as a team," Penn sophomore Stacy Kress said. From the start of the program in the fall of 1999, Vaughn has set the team's goals in terms of progress, not absolute scores. According to Vaughn, this type of attitude has given the players a real sense of optimism and dedication to improving their individual games. "They are diligent about practice habits and steadfast about improving," Vaughn said. "They are doing the right things [to improve their games]." These individual improvements were reflected in the success the Red and Blue enjoyed in the fall. "I was very satisfied with how we played [in the fall]," Vaughn said. "The girls have done a great job, and their scores and finishes speak for themselves." For the second consecutive year, the Quakers will spend their spring break on the links, playing golf every day. While last year's break was spent in Florida, this year the team is heading west to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Calif., and Los Angeles. After the spring break trip, the Red and Blue will compete in a pair of tournaments in Virginia. Their first live action will come at the William and Mary Invitational starting on March 31. They will compete in the James Madison Invitational the following weekend and end their season with the Ivy League Championship on April 21 and 22. One challenge for the team has been finding ways to hone its skills during the cold Philadelphia winter. "We've been working indoors in our indoor facility just hitting balls," Kress said. In addition to utilizing their indoor practice facility, the Quakers have also brought in an outside company, Body Balance, that comes in once a week and formulates stretches and exercises for the team, according to Kress. "In general, we've been trying to improve our coordination and generally improve our technique," Penzell said. Having lost its only senior, Natasha Miller, to graduation Penn welcomed four newcomers in the fall, bringing the total roster count to eight. In contrast, the only freshman recruited by Vaughn last year was Kress. According to Vaughn, one key to the long-term success of the program is having an opportunity to step up recruiting efforts. There is a flip side to that, though. With such a young team, the Quakers will be reliant on the leadership of the upperclassmen -- senior Jen Schraut and juniors Victoria Entine and Karen Pearlman -- if they are to continue on last year's progress.

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