CLEVELAND -- After a seven-year absence, the Kent State women’s golf team advanced past the Regional Tournament and into the NCAA Championship round, but the Golden Flashes are far from just happy to be there.
Through the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship, the Golden Flashes held onto second place. Now, Kent State begins quarterfinal match play against the top-shooting team over the first three days of the tournament, Northwestern.
“I’m just happy for the team and the players, the work that they put in and the time and the dedication,” Kent State women’s golf coach Greg Robertson said.
“I think it’s really about them and what they’ve done this year. A chance for the team to represent Kent State and the athletic department at Nationals is just a wonderful thing and something that we all can be proud of.”
Champions of the Mid-American Conference for the 19th straight season, the Golden Flashes hung onto the No. 6 spot in regional play to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2010.
“Regionals is a pretty nerve-wracking event, and coming down the stretch, they just played solid golf,” Robertson said. “We don’t go down and tell them how they stand or what the scores are or anything because we just want them to play golf. I’m sure they all had an idea of where they were.
“To have them go out and play the way they did when we’re tied with the No. 1 team in the country going into that final round, and ultimately, end up beating them along with another good Pac-12 school in Oregon State. I think it just says a lot with the kind of character we have on this team.”
A top-five team in all but one of their regular-season competitions and winners of three tournaments, the Golden Flashes had to hold onto a slim lead over the final few holes to beat out the top-ranked UCLA Bruins for the sixth and final qualifying spot out of the Lubbock, Texas Regional.
“They’ve been resilient really all year,” Robertson said. “There’s been times where we’ve played really good golf and won tournaments to separate ourselves a little bit.
“We’ve also had some times during the year where we’ve made some good comebacks and played well down the stretch. Ultimately, all that experience has helped us out in regionals and got us to where we are.”
Robertson credited the schedule with Kent State’s ability to not only advance to the NCAA Championship, but compete well enough to get into the top eight and remain in the hunt of the National Championship.
“We want to play a competitive schedule where we’re playing those types of teams throughout the year because ultimately, when you get to the postseason, that’s really who you’re going to be playing against,” Robertson said.
“No matter where you go in any Regional, and of course, in the NCAAs, all that experience throughout the year of playing against those teams, but we also have some success in having beaten quite of few of them. All that matters.
“That’s where we want to continue to go with our schedule in the future, build it to allow ourselves to have a little bit of success in the postseason once we get there.”