PLYMOUTH — A win is a win as they say, but Plymouth has its sights set on loftier goals as the 2011 girls golf season gets into full swing.
Led by returning junior Emily Berger’s 49, Plymouth carded a team score of 210 to trump Peru’s 222, while Caston was unable to record a team score as players forfeited with temperatures reaching into the 90s, and the Lady Pilgrims topped the field in their dual-meet season opener at a triangular match at Swan Lake Friday.
“We’ll take a win any way we can get it,” said Plymouth head girls golf coach Jack Kinney, in his second year at the helm for the Lady Pilgrims. “Our goal tonight when we met before we started was to break the 200 barrier. We started out the first part of the year at Aberdeen and we were 428 for 18, and we were 413 here at our own invite. We wanted to get down below 200 and we were a little short at 210, but the girls are working really hard.”
Mandy McPherron carded a 51 in the number two spot for Plymouth, while Lauren Rearick carded a 54 in the three spot, followed closely by newcomer Briana Gantz’s 56, and Alyssa Egierski turned in a 60 in the final varsity slot for the Pilgrims. The JV Pilgrims carded a combined 375 with six scores at the meet, meanwhile.
Like the Rockies football team, the Lady Pilgrims golf team is battling some inexperience this year with just one returning senior in McPherron and a pair of returning juniors in Berger and Rearick.
“What we’re facing with this year’s team is youth,” said Kinney. “We’ve got one senior that has experience, Mandy McPherron, and we have two juniors, Emily Berger and Lauren Rearick. Those are our only girls that have varsity experience at all. After that, we actually have six sophomores and two freshmen, so the future looks bright as far as the underclassmen go, but we are just fighting some inexperience.”
While the team is young, Kinney’s expectations remain high for his players. As an assistant coach for the program during its back-to-back state finals appearances in 2007 and 2008, the Plymouth skipper hopes his young golfers will work hard to live up to that legacy of success.
“It’s probably from my background growing up in Florida and playing on some pretty good baseball and football teams, I’m huge on tradition. I believe that tradition can carry a team to the next level,” he said. “When the girls get into their hearts and into their minds the belief system that somebody has gone before them and paved the way — there have been teams in the past five years that have gone to state, there have been great experiences happen on Plymouth’s girls golf teams — and they’ve set a standard. What I want the younger girls to realize is, they don’t have to and they won’t be able to go out in the first few matches and be able to meet that standard. But we want them to know there have been people that have gone before them that have set that standard, and that’s what they need to achieve. They can feel good about personal bests, they can feel good about winning, but they have to realize that that’s not where the bar is for Lady Pilgrim golf. The bar has been set much, much higher by girls that have played for the Pilgrims in the past.”
Friday’s three-way was Plymouth’s first nine hole match of the year, but the team already has two invitationals under its belt less than a week into the season.
The Pilgrims turned in a team score of 427 in their season-opener at the Valparaiso Invitational Tuesday and shaved 14 strokes off that tally with a 413 for fourth place behind Northern Lakes Conference rival Northwood at their home invite at Swan Lake Thursday.
Plymouth’s schedule remains fast-paced next week as the team is slated to play in three more invitationals — the New Prairie invite Tuesday, the Twin Lakes Invitational Thursday and the Western Invitational next Saturday.
“What we’re hoping is to get them some experience under their belts,” said Kinney. “That’s why we play all the invites at the beginning of the year: Get them out, play 18, play a lot of golf, have a lot of good practices. Then by the time we hit conference, which is all-important to us, we’re ready to go.”
• PLYMOUTH 210, PERU 222, CASTON NS
At Swan Lake
PLYMOUTH (210): Emily Berger 49, Mandy McPherron 51, Lauren Rearick 54, Briana Gantz 56, Alyssa Egierski 60.
JV score: Plymouth 375 (6 scores)