2006 Maryland Women's Golf Outlook
Feb. 15, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With quite possibly the best fall season in history in the books, the University of Maryland women's golf team has its sights on uncharted territory for the Spring 2006 season.
In only the seventh year of the program, head coach Jason Rodenhaver and his group of talented, experienced players are on the brink of a potential NCAA Tournament berth that would be the first in school history.
Following an outstanding fall and with key regional and national appearances on the spring schedule, Maryland can potentially take an important step in its progress in the coming months.
"We have a young team by class, but it's a veteran team," said Rodenhaver. "We've virtually had the same lineup for a year-and-a-half now."
Rodenhaver said his team is also gaining the respect of other teams and coaches as it progresses. The Fall 2005 results included two third-place finishes and two fourth-place finishes for the team, which cut 14 shots off its 18-hole team scoring average between the fall season and the 2004-05 season.
"We finished 12th this year at the Cougar Classic, but we beat six or seven big-time schools at that tournament," he said. "We're on everybody's radar now. Other teams are looking around and saying `Maryland's here, they're good.' It's good to have that kind of respect.
"The next step is definitely to qualify for regionals. That will help get us where we want to be.
"I think we really want to go to NCAA regionals," said Rodenhaver. "I think our players realize they're a pretty good team and feel like they belong. We've beaten a lot of good teams this year. We're close, I think our players know that."
Leading the effort in helping the Terps to the next step is Kate Stepanek. The junior won two individual tournaments in the fall, going 5-under-par to win the Taco Bell Intercollegiate and capturing the Wolverine Invitational. She also won the Lady Jaguar medalist honor last fall.
"I think she has a little more confidence in herself," Rodenhaver said of Stepanek, who led the team with a 77.2 scoring average in 2004-05 and trimmed that to 73.7 in Fall 2005. "For two years, she had been close to breaking 70 and now she's done it twice. It's like her game is out of the bottle a little bit.
"She's always had talent, but now having the mental aspect helps. She's very well-rounded, but her strength is she's long. She can overpower a course. She has the game where she can make five, six or seven birdies a round.
"Obviously when we get Kate going, everybody gets caught up in the draft, so to speak," said Rodenhaver. "We all have worked harder this fall than any other year in my tenure."
Consistently in the second spot for the Terps the last two seasons has been junior Jessica Reno. She was in the top three on the team in all but one tournament a year ago and led Maryland at the ACC Championships. She also had a strong fall season, averaging 77.1 per round and posted three top-20 finishes.
"Jessica has been steady for 2-1/2 years," said Rodenhaver. "She has the game. It's a matter of believing in herself. She works hard and is very close to breaking out."
The other junior in the Terrapins' consistent lineup is Kelly MacWhinnie, who has shown tremendous improvement from the spring to the fall of 2005. She has cut four shots off her scoring average from a year ago and posted the first top-10 finish of her career this spring when she placed 10th at the Wolverine Invitational.
"Kelly really helped us in the fifth spot this fall," said Rodenhaver. "Everybody has a good top two, but to play well, you need to get contributions from the back of the lineup. Kelly's improvement is a tribute to her hard work."
Sophomore Katie Trotter has held down the third spot for the Terrapins during the fall season, improving her stroke average five shots between the Spring 2005 and Fall 2005 semesters. She played in all 28 rounds as a freshman a year ago, with a seventh-place finish at the Spider Invitational being her best of her debut season. She was 12th this fall at the Wolverine Invitational.
The other sophomore in Maryland's normal fivesome is Kelly Calkin. She finished third on the team in scoring average last year, posting an 80.2 mark. She had 26 of 28 rounds count toward the team total as a freshman, and had five rounds of 75 or better in the fall season.
Pushing those five players is a talented group that gives Rodenhaver considerable optimism for the future.
Maggie Trainor is a junior from Dundas, Ontario, who is one of the hardest workers on the team, according to Rodenhaver. Madeleine Lovette was a highly-recruited freshman from Johnstown, Pa., who comes to College Park with a solid high school record. Carla Wasienko is a powerful freshman from nearby Rockville, Md., who walked on to the Terps' squad in the fall.