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Penn women's golf finished the fall portion of its 2023-24 schedule with a second-place finish at the Lady Blue Hen Invitational on Oct. 22 (Photo from Penn Athletics).

Penn women’s golf concluded its fall season at the University of Delaware’s Lady Blue Hen Invitational, which was held at the Rehoboth Beach Country Club's par-72 course on Oct. 21-22. 

The Quakers are no strangers to this tournament, having made a remarkable impression in 2019 by clinching the top spot and Class of 2023 graduate Susan Xiao receiving individual medalist honors. Last year, the Red and Blue tied for third place among 12 teams. This year, the team narrowly edged out Delaware by a single stroke for second.

The Quakers were incredibly successful in the first round of this season's tournament, holding an eight-stroke lead after shooting 291. However, they slipped behind the host Blue Hens in the second round later that day and trailed by two strokes heading into the final round. 

But the next day, with only 18 holes to play, every team — including Penn and Delaware — was outshone by an outstanding performance from Harvard. The Crimson completed Sunday's round with a team score of eight-under-par 280, concluding the event with a total score of 880, just 16 strokes over par. Penn finished the tournament with a total of 886.

“There’s only six people on the team, so we’re really like a family,” junior Natalie Cao said. “We went into the tournament with the drive to win, and although we didn’t [get first place], I think it was our collective desire that allowed us to perform well.”

“[The team] has a lot of tournament experience and they’re able to come back from setbacks," coach Mark Anderson said, echoing Cao’s reflections. "They know how to handle themselves, and they’re very positive.”

Sophomore Julie Shin was the standout performer for her team throughout the tournament, going under par in the first round with a score of 71. She held strong over the final two rounds, finishing the tournament with a three-round score of four-over-par 220, good enough to tie for sixth place out of 66 golfers. Freshman Madeleine Zang also made an impressive showing, carding a total score of six-over-par 222 and securing a tie for 11th place. 

Just behind Shin and Zang was sophomore Bridget O'Keefe, who completed the tournament with a score of 223, which included 38 pars — the fifth highest in the competition — and placed her 14th overall. Cao and freshman Maggie Ni both ended with scores of 227, tying for 19th place. Notably, Cao hit an even-par 72 on Sunday and was one of only five players to record an eagle during the event, achieving this feat on the ninth hole in the first round on Saturday.

The Red and Blue have a break from competition this winter before they return to the course again in the spring. With the taste of nearly clinching the title still fresh, Cao suggests that the team's unity and collective drive will help Penn head into to the spring season with renewed vigor and determination.

“We certainly want to defend our Ivy League Championship," Anderson added. "We’ll have to keep everything in shape over the winter.”