Trojans NCAA Championship Run Ends In Semifinals On Playoff Hole|
May 24, 2017
USC's hopes for a fourth national championships were halted in the 2017 NCAA semifinals as Northwestern came back Wednesday (May 24) morning to erase the Trojans' slim lead from Tuesday and complete the match play win, 3-2, on a playoff hole at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
The match ultimately rested on the shoulders of senior Gabriella Then, who was in a playoff with Wildcat Janet Mao after losing a late 2-hole lead. Both players, back on 1, faced par putts inside 10 feet. Mao sunk hers while Then left hers an inch short, giving Northwestern the finals berth.
USC played in its NCAA-best 20th consecutive trip in the NCAA finals and the Trojans were in their third consecutive NCAA match play bracket since the format started in 2015 -- one of only two teams to do it. The semifinal loss, a tie for third overall, also extends USC's national-best top 5 NCAA streak to 12 seasons.
"It's been a week with lot of adversity here with the weather, but our team was as prepared to face this challenge as we could be. The goal this year was to win a national title, but we fell a little short," USC 21st-year coach Andrea Gaston said. "But this was a year when we had a player turn pro and we were an underdog, but we still had a chance to win and I'm proud of this group. We went in with a lead today, but there's a lot of talent on Northwestern's team and they have some great players and they got it done today."
The Trojans led 4-1 when darkness halted play Tuesday night, forcing the teams to come back at 9 a.m. today to finish. Freshman Muni He led 2up in her match while seniors Then and Tiffany Chan and sophomore Robynn Ree led 1up while senior Victoria Morgan trailed by one.
But Ree lost three straight holes to lose her match, 2&1, while Morgan fell, 2&1, as well. Chan briefly lost her lead but picked up holes on 14 and 16 before taking her match on 17, 2&1, for USC's first point.
He took a 3up lead onto 16 but lost three straight holes as Kacie Komoto forced a playoff. He, however, made par on 1 to win her match and even the score at 2-2. Eyes turned to Then, who dropped 16 and then 18 to go to a playoff, setting the stage for the Northwestern win.