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Preview: Women's Golf Aims to Reclaim Ivy League Crown This Weekend

The women's golf team will travel to the home course of the defending Ivy League champs this weekend for a shot at reclaiming the conference title.
Hoping to capitalize on an impressive win in its most recent tournament, Harvard women’s golf looks to use its new momentum to reclaim the Ancient Eight crown in the Ivy League Championships.

“Our team is super hyped going into it,” freshman Jessica Luo said. “We have a nothing to lose attitude, and we’ve been preparing mentally and physically all year.”

Last season, the Crimson’s impressive five-year reign atop the conference came to an end. Princeton took home last year’s crown at the Orange Tree Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. to dethrone Harvard in dominating fashion, topping the field the entire weekend and finishing 31 strokes ahead of the second-place Crimson. This season, Harvard will travel to Metedeconk National Golf Club in the Tigers’ home state of New Jersey in an attempt to take back the trophy and avenge last season’s loss.

This season, however, the Crimson have all the momentum they could have asked for, having finished first in its latest tournament, hosting the Harvard Invitational in Osprey, Fla.

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“We all really want this,” junior Anna Zhou said.“Our team is in a really good place right now.”

The Harvard Invitational included five of the seven Ivy League teams that will compete this weekend in the Ivy League Championship, including Princeton. The Tigers and Brown were tied at first after the first day of play, but Harvard roared back to head into the final day tied with Princeton. The Crimson finished strong to take home the victory by three strokes, with the Tigers finishing in fourth place.

The hotly contested weekend at The Oaks Club sets up a dramatic finale to the season between the newest champions and the recently dethroned regime. Harvard will have to travel into enemy territory, crossing into Princeton’s home state to play at Metedeconk.

“We’re looking forward to it,” captain Lita Guo said. “We’re very lucky to be able to play on that course.”

This is only the third tournament on the year for the Crimson, whose roller coaster season has seen both extreme ends of the spectrum. Before leaving the Harvard Invitational victorious, Harvard finished last in its opening tournament, the Clemson Invitational.

“Clemson was a great first tournament for everybody to get back in shape and gauge the state of our game,” Guo said. “Coming off of Clemson, which was in nice condition and had great weather, we were able to really improve our game and it really showed in our home tournament.”

Although the Crimson’s current trajectory is headed upwards following the victory in Osprey, the late stages of the season have not been free of speed bumps. Although the northeast is hardly expected to serve as a tropical paradise, this year’s uncharacteristically long winter has impeded spring practice heading into the Ivy League Championships.

“The weather outside is not really conducive to practicing, but we’re getting ready,” Luo said.

New England can often cause problems for outdoor golf practices, but the unpredictable weather has encroached on the usually more reliable middle months of the calendar year.

“It’s actually been a bit tougher this year with this winter,” Zhou said. “We’ve been driving to Rhode Island and Northern Massachusetts to practice.”

Despite the dreary conditions of the harsh Boston weather, Harvard has continued to prepare mentally and physically in the penultimate tournament of the year.

In addition to preparation, the Crimson has winning experience on its side. The program is no stranger to success in the Ivy League Championships. Several members have played a major role in the five-year dynasty atop the Ancient Eight, allowing Harvard to finish outside the top two spots only once since 2007.

Even with the experience, the team also carries two freshman who are new to the tournament. However, this will not change the team’s season-long preparation coming into the final scheduled contest of the year.

“Going into Ivies, we have the same mindset as any other tournament,” Guo said. “Although it’s Ivies, as the team—especially the the freshman—are looking forward to it.”

—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at joseph.minatel@thecrimson.com.

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