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Foothill League 2012 girls golf preview

West Ranch defends title against a former champ and a new contender

Posted: September 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch sophomore Julie Ward finished third in the Foothill League last year as a freshman.

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There’s a reason, West Ranch head girls golf coach Jeff Holen said, his program has enjoyed the sort of success it has had the last couple of years, culminating in its first Foothill League title in 2011.

Sure, the school is situated in the most affluent community in the Santa Clarita Valley and is situated best to the valley’s golf courses.

But Holen said the reason for the program’s climb and for its 2012 depth is because the way the entire program has been structured.

Sometimes, the local girls golf programs have troubles keeping enough girls committed to their teams long-term.

Holen said he keeps more freshmen on the team so it keeps them coming out in later years.

They learn by playing with some of the area’s top golfers, they build a camaraderie with the other golfers and it shows the program’s commitment to them.

The result is depth and that’s the reason why West Ranch is considered this year’s almost consensus Foothill League favorite.

But the title is not a given, despite every single program that has won its first Foothill title followed the next year with a repeat.

Hart believes it can compete, after holding the championship from 2007 to 2010.

And Golden Valley, a program which has never finished better than fourth in its six-year Foothill League residency, believes it can compete.

The interesting thing about those three programs is each has a budding freshman, which could make for one of the valley’s best four-year individual rivalries in recent time.

West Ranch’s Josie Lionetti, Hart’s Katie Corr and Golden Valley’s Elisa Pierre each have the makings of being year in and year out CIF individual postseason contenders.

Valencia, though, can never be counted out, despite not having two golfers who would have made the program an instant title contender.

Saugus and Canyon meanwhile attempt to build.

West Ranch

The freshman sensation of a year ago, Julie Ward, is still around and is still as intense as young girls golfers come.

She finished third overall in the Foothill to Hart’s Kendall Dusenberry, but very much wanted to beat the senior.

Holen said he’s still waiting for her breakout performance as a sophomore, but she is surrounded by some veterans who will boost the team.

Senior four-year varsity golfers Sarah Hong and Michelle Kim and senior three-year varsity golfer
Jamie Lee all finished in the top 17 of league last year, with Hong reaching the individual postseason with a fifth-place finish.

Lionetti is a young student of the game, who Holen said is a good course manager and has a steady short game.

Every coach in the Foothill League picked the Wildcats to win the Foothill title, though one coach split his vote.

“I definitely think so,” Holen said on if he thinks his team can repeat. “But you never know with golf on any given day. In the long run, over six rounds, I think we’ll come out on top. It’s not a shoe-in, but because of our depth overall (I think we can win it).”

Hart

Coming off a dynasty with a once-in-a-decade kind of group, Hart was obviously considered less of a team last season.

Yet the Indians were gritty and finished in second place.

It helped that they were talented at the top with Foothill League Most Valuable Player Kendall Dusenberry and MVP runner-up Jamie Corr.

Corr, an extremely competitive golfer, is back for her senior year and has the added motivation of competing with her sister, freshman Katie Corr.

Head coach Renee Onori said she has grouped the sisters at golf matches so they can drive each other.

Hart’s next top finisher from last year is junior Kennedy Mullen, who was tied for 25th in the Foothill last season.

Hart has some other veterans — seniors Georgia Harris and Jessie Meza — but is searching for girls on the back end for strong scores.

Nonetheless, Onori said there’s potential.

“As a team, that’s their desire (to win),” Onori said. “Theyhave a real strong desire to be as good as they can be. They’re at practice longer than I’m at practice. They say, ‘Coach, can I play another round?’ That desire with them as a team will take them further.”

Valencia

It’s hard not to say what Valencia could be.

Sophomore Amanda Horii, who finished tied for eighth in league last season, transferred to Trinity Classical Academy.

UCLA-bound junior golf superstar and Valencia senior Alison Lee goes to Valencia, but is busy with junior tournaments.
That doesn’t leave the cupboard bare, though.

Senior Andrea Webster (Foothiil finish in 2011: 11th) and juniors Kaitlyn Humphries (tied for 12th) and Joyce Kim (16th) provide Valencia with a concrete foundation.

The Vikings have their own promising freshman in Eunice Song, but it remains to be seen just if Valencia has enough depth to finish in the top three and make the postseason.

“We’ll compete. Sure we’ll compete,” said Valencia head coach Andy Raevouri, who is entering the his last season with the Vikings after starting the program in 1999. “Will we get it? There’s a lot of good competition in the league. We’ll have to play better than we’re playing now.”

Golden Valley

The Grizzlies are full of hope and confidence and for the first time depth.

Grizzly senior Amanda Hobbs became the second golfer in school history to make the individual postseason last season and is poised to become the third.

More importantly, she has talent surrounding her that could put her, and her school, in the team postseason for the first time.

At the top are senior Ashley Pfenning and junior Illeanna Dullas, who both tied for 19th overall in league.

Pierre, if she is as advertised, could make Golden Valley one of the most talented teams in the Foothill League.

The Grizzlies are definitely motivated to achieve heights they’ve never seen.

“Togetherness,” said Golden Valley head coach Tony Moskal on what the strength of the team is. “This program over the years has been disrespected because we haven’t had golfers. Now they see that their hard work is paying off and they have bonded as a group for one common goal and that’s to win a league championship.”

Saugus

Saugus is thin in 2012.

There are just nine girls in the whole program with four seniors and two juniors occupying six spots on the varsity.

Centurions head coach David Stradling said one golfer to look out for is senior Shannon Laurin, who has made a lot of improvement.

She finished 18th overall last season.

Senior Brittney Eidem came in at 27th.

The Centurions will get a boost when senior Rachel Shotzbarger returns from a broken hand she suffered in the summer playing softball.

That’s expected early in league play.

But because the team is thin, it will take a lot for the Centurions to jump into the playoff picture.

“I think we’re more talented than our girls believe,” Stradling said. “Our top four can really play.”

Canyon

It’s been an uphill climb for the Cowboys, but second-season head coach Brian Ingino is committed to guiding the team to a competitive state.

Last season, Canyon had only one individual finish in the top 25, and that golfer, Amanda Toshimitsu (14th) graduated.

Junior Ashley Warner and sophomore Alyssa Goenner have some varsity experience under their belt and have potential to lead the program for a couple of years.

Another junior, Tiana Yamaoka, also has varsity experience.

And then the program added five freshmen this year.

“If we have consistency with our girls, they’ve all shot solid rounds, (we could be competitive),” Ingino said.

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