By Shane Bacon
KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona freshman Erica Blasberg hits a tee shot during a tournament earlier this season in Tucson.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 24, 2003
Confident Wildcats head to Southern California for conference title shot
The women's golf team has already had a year that most programs would be happy with, but for this Arizona squad, things are just getting started.
The Wildcats will be teeing it up in Corvallis, Ore., for the first round of the Pac-10 Championships and will be gunning for their fourth consecutive title at the event.
"We're very confident," head coach Greg Allen said. "We've had two weeks to prepare (for the event) and even with the bad weather, we're excited to compete."
Competing at their potential is something the UA golfers have had trouble with this spring. After being ranked the top team in the nation during the fall schedule, the Wildcats have failed to win a spring tournament and have been outplayed by other Pac-10 teams, namely Southern California and UCLA, throughout the past four months.
Not only will the Wildcats be going for their fourth straight Pac-10 title, they will also be playing for the school's seventh conference championship, something no other Pac-10 school has ever accomplished.
Since Allen has been the head coach for the women's team, UA has won half of the post-season tournaments it has entered, and the coach feels this year shouldn't be any different.
"We've talked all season about peaking at the right time and that time is now," he said. "We have won this tournament three years in a row and we feel good (about our chances)."
The success of the team this year has fallen mainly on the shoulders of freshman Erica Blasberg, who after her sixth place finish at the PING/ASU Invitational, has only finished out of the top 10 once in seven tournaments this season while picking up wins at the Fall Preview and the Wildcat Invitational.
The top-ranked player in the nation has a 72.00 scoring average in her first year in Tucson and looks to lower that this weekend.
"I expect a decent showing," Blasberg said. "My game feels good and we're all looking to do really well."
Some would argue that the pressure of her first postseason tournament could undo the young Wildcat, but nothing has seemed to faze her yet. Blasberg said she has prepared for the Pac-10 Championship the same as she has for every other tournament this year.
"It's just another tournament to me," she said. "Even if it means a little more, I'll approach it like any other tournament."
An improbable bright spot for the Wildcats this season has the impressive play of freshman Cassandra Kirkland, who after considering redshirting, has played her way onto the main squad and enters this weekend with a ton of confidence.
The native of France finished in second place at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational after leading during the first two days of competition. Kirkland seems to be peaking at the right time as well, as Allen would say.
The leadership of seniors Anna Lee and Laura Myerscough, who will be playing in their final Pac-10 championship, can't be overlooked either, as both have helped bring the UA program consecutive Pac-10 titles and a NCAA Championship in 2001.
Allen thinks his entire roster can finish high if they play to their ability.
"Cassandra is confident, Anna is playing better, Laura will have a good showing and Miriam (Krashchinski) has been improving," he said. "So if they all play (to their capability) they can all finish in the top 10."
With confidence stirring in the Wildcats' corner, nobody should bet against Arizona to four-peat. Even with that in mind, these UA athletes still have one more title in their sights ÷ another NCAA championship.