Women's Golf Looks to Build Off Strong Fall Season
Feb. 24, 2014
CHICAGO - The UIC women’s golf team kicks off the spring season in two weeks (March 10-12) at the Seminole State Spring Break Invitational. The Flames look to build off their best fall season in program history. The 2013 fall season saw the team's first individual title (Caitlan Smollen at the Green Bay Dual Match) and the third lowest 36-hole team total in program history (649 at the Green Bay Invite).
Returnees for the spring season include juniors Elizabeth Curtiss, Ryann Gilley, Cherise Mangal and Kayla Stueland, sophomore Caitlan Smollen and freshman Shannon Menard. The Flames continue to participate in individual practice and workouts leading up to team practices at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in early March.
“After a long winter we are anxiously awaiting our Spring Championship season,” said UIC head coach Carol Rhoades. “In our third year I expect that our maturity will blossom and we will improve our Horizon League finish. With a focus on mental skills development in the offseason, we are anticipating a successful spring campaign."
Gilley led the team with a scoring average of 81.82 in the fall season. She charged through the tough conditions in the fall to post two scores in the 70s, with a 78 at the Green Bay Invite (Sept. 9) and another 78 at the Cougar Classic (Sept. 17). During the offseason, Gilley worked on improving her short game for a higher up-and-down percentage this spring.
“As the Flames team captain, Ryann continues to lead the team in all statistical categories,” said Rhoades. “Ryann's dedication will enable her to improve her scoring average this Championship season.”
77- Detroit Titans Invite (Sept. 10, 2012)
Smollen improved dramatically on scoring average this fall. She finished the fall season with an 83.55 scoring average. Smollen won the Green Bay Dual Match (Sept. 14) with a career best round of 76. She also broke 80 at the Cougar Classic (Sept. 16) where she shot a 79. This offseason, Smollen worked on improving all aspects of her game, with a specific focus on saving shots around the greens.
“As a seasoned sophomore, Caitlan has worked hard in the offseason on scoring shots and the balance required to be more consistent,” said Rhoades. “Caitlan's sheer determination will continue to propel her career as a Flame.”
76- Green Bay Dual Match (Sept. 14, 2013)
With consistent play throughout the fall, Mangal hoisted a scoring average of 83.73. Her season best score was a 79 at the Flyer Invite (Oct. 22), followed by an 80 at the Green Bay Invite (Sept. 9). Mangal has worked hard on swing mechanics this offseason in her continued pursuit for consistent golf shots.
“As last season's best finisher at the Horizon League Championship, Cherise is expected to continue her steady play,” said Rhoades. “Cherise has worked hard in the off season to increase her strength for added distance on the course. Having an outstanding putting stroke makes Cherise a candidate to shoot low every time she tees it up.”
75- Detroit Titans Invite (Sept. 9, 2012)
Curtiss secured a scoring average of 85.55 in the fall season. Her best round of the fall was a 78 at the Chi Town Classic (Sept. 2), which also tied her score at the Green Bay Invite a week later (Sept. 9). The offseason provided Curtiss time to work on all aspects of her game. These aspects range from mental skill preparation to improved putting percentages, which she hopes will contribute to low scores in the spring season.
“After a fall season plagued by illness, Elizabeth is poised to return to the performance level of her Illinois State Championship season in high school,” said Rhoades. “Elizabeth's committed to working hard in all areas of her game. She is positioned to have her best semester as a Flame.”
78- Chi Town Classic (Sept. 2, 2013) & Green Bay Invite (Sept. 9, 2013)
Stueland did not play during the fall season due to recovery from elbow surgery. Being away from the golf course provided Stueland time to work on increasing her mental fortitude. She expects these exercises to have a positive effect on her results this spring.
“As a top performer of the Flames in her first two seasons, Kayla is expected to return to form this spring after sitting out the fall with an injury,” said Rhoades. “As a member of the Flames’ inaugural squad, Kayla’s maturity will assist her in completing a successful return to the starting lineup.”
72- Detroit Titans Fall Classic (Oct. 9, 2011)
Coming off of her first season as a Flame, Menard has become more comfortable handling the rigors of a Division I athlete. As a freshman, she will have the experience of traveling with the team this spring, which will allow her to become comfortable with the pressures collegiate golf. Menard has continued working on all assets of her game during the offseason. She hopes to implement these improvements into her play this spring.
“As the newcomer to the squad, Shannon has gotten a little taste of Division I competitive golf,” said Rhoades. “Her unwavering work ethic and competitiveness will make her an asset to the Flames this Championship season.”