The University of Richmond women's golf program has never made the NCAA tournament, but this year that could change.
This team is the most experienced coach Leighann Albaugh has had in her three years with the Spiders.
That experience should translate into a more competitive team. "I'm looking for really good things to happen this year," Albaugh said in a telephone interview. "I feel like we have a new-found focus. As a group, we are in a really great place this year."
The optimism comes from the strong leadership and experience on the team. Only one freshman has joined a team made of mostly juniors and seniors.
"We've got older players like Anne Sprick and Victoria Kidder who lead by example and who are team players, just by showing their work ethic," Albaugh said. "I feel like within the next two years our team will be as strong as it's ever been."
Albaugh said the goal of reaching the NCAA tournament was as attainable as it had ever been for the program, which is now in its seventh year.
Sprick, a junior, said she agreed with her coach, but said it would take a strong effort from each member of the team to reach the NCAA tournament.
"We need to all be performing at our best level," she said. "It's possible, but I think we all just need to focus on doing our best right now before we can reach that goal."
Sprick said the team had come a long way since her freshman year.
"It's always been hard because we've always been a young team," she said. "It's hard to believe that we're actually juniors now."
The team finished sixth at the Colonial Athletic Association Championship last year, but Sprick said the team could beat James Madison University and The College of William & Mary this year, two teams it finished behind.
"I think we can catch those teams," she said. "We'll see about Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington because they're really good."
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The team begins play Sept. 8 at the Towson Invitational. Albaugh said she didn't know what to expect because the team had never played in the tournament before.
"Of course, I would love to finish in the top-three," she said. "I think that's very doable."
Contact reporter Stephen Utz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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