ETSU women make history with first conference championship and NCAA berth; Jansone makes it a sweep with individual title
Sophomore Laura Jansone flops the winning pitch toward the 18th green.
Sophomore Laura Jansone flops the winning pitch toward the 18th green.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (April 16, 2008) - With a 28-stroke lead heading into Wednesday's third and final round of the Atlantic Sun Conference Women's Golf Championships at the Ridges Golf and Country Club, the ETSU women had left little doubt about which team would take away the league title. However, the battle for the individual championship left the gallery guessing until the end.

 

While the Buccaneers made history by winning the program's first ever conference title and berth to the NCAAs with a 25-stroke victory over Campbell, ETSU sophomore Laura Jansone (Jurmala, Latvia) needed two impressive par saves on the final two holes to post a tournament score of 10-over-par 226 (67-82-77) to best Campbell's Belen Diaz Cisneros and Belmont's Lorie Warren.

 

The best part was Jansone didn't even know the situation.

 

"I kind of knew it was close, but if I knew I was winning by one that last (pitch) would have been 100 percent harder," said Jansone, who captured her second career outright individual title and the third in school history. "(The pitch) was the shot of the day for me to be honest and it felt awesome when I heard everyone yell, ‘Go in!' It was a great feeling, but winning as a team was more special."

 

Explaining that her family was likely pacing the floors back in Latvia as they watched live scoring on the Internet late into the evening, Jansone described her two par saves. The first on No. 17 came thanks to a 10-foot putt, which ultimately gave her a one-stroke edge over Cisneros, who missed her four foot putt for par. On No. 18, Jansone's approach shot bounced over the green, leaving her a 25-foot flop pitch to an elevated green. With only a 10-foot area to land the ball, she executed the shot and tapped in for par. Meanwhile, Cisneros missed her 15-foot birdie attempt that would have forced a playoff.

 

"I'm so proud of this team and what Laura was able to do on those final few holes," said ETSU head coach Stefanie Shelton. "I am really beside myself. To win for the first time is obviously one of those steps every program wants to take to get to nationals. To have everyone on our team finish in the Top 9 is unbelievable. This is the realization of a dream."

 

Indeed, the Bucs used a sound effort throughout their lineup to capture the victory. Along with Jansone, senior Natalia Giraldo (Cali, Colombia) also earned A-Sun All-Championship honors by finishing tied for fifth, just three strokes back of Jansone. Meanwhile, fellow senior Maria Ringdahl (Farjestaden, Sweden) and sophomore Sinead O'Sullivan (Galway, Ireland) tied for seventh and junior Lucy Gould (Bargoed, Wales) finished ninth.

 

"I can't put into words how great this is," said Giraldo, who recalled her recruitment by Shelton and the goal of taking the program to the NCAAs. "To have waited three years, I think it's awesome to finally do it for the first time right here at home."

 

Ringdahl was equally excited.

 

"This was something we had to do and getting to the NCAAs is special," Ringdahl said. "This was one of our goals, but it's not our last goal. This is not the end."

 

ETSU will now wait to learn where they will play their NCAA regional event, which will begin May 8. Visit ETSUBucs.com to learn more in the coming weeks.

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