GHS brings back experienced squad

Amy Carton
Ashley Farrell returns for her senior season for the Lady Leaf golf team.

With a new coach at the helm and the entire sectional qualifying squad returning, the Geneseo girls’ golf team is setting their sights high this season.

“We just talked about filling out our goal cards at practice (the other day), but my expectations match their goals, such as moving out of regionals,” said head coach Steve Brucher. “They had a pretty successful season last year. I am very optimistic because we have seven or eight girls competing for those six varsity spots, which is nice.”

Helping lead the way will be Geneseo’s lone senior Ashley Farrell, who has taken on her senior leadership roles early this summer.

“Ashley has done a wonderful job of being the leader and captain,” said Brucher. “She got the girls organized to meet and play a bit and that is a step in the right direction not just for them to play, but to build team camaraderie.

“I hope she sets a good example for all the girls if she can play consistently and be a model of someone who won’t get too high or too low. Leading by example is one of the most important things you want out of your seniors, and she has done a wonderful job so far.”

Looking for a spot in the varsity lineup are: juniors Abby Frank, Bailey Ries, Emily VandeWiele and Abby Wilebski.

“The four juniors are all really solid players and all four will be in the mix for those varsity spots,” said Brucher. “Those four juniors with Ashley and Monica Lieving. That is a pretty good six right there, but also there are some sophomores in Emma Vandemore and Amber Dauksas who will be pushing for spots.”

Other sophomores vying to break into the lineup include: Taylor McKean, Corey Panicucci and Sierra Sommer.

“I think (sophomores Sierra, Corey and Taylor) have a little experience from last year and repetition of play everyday will help them more,” said Brucher. “I hope they continue to progress, and hopefully when they get to be juniors they will be ready to take those spots.

“I think I have to put Monica in a separate category from the rest of the sophomores because she has a different set of expectations than the others. She qualified for state last year and that may be a goal for her.”

The lone freshman on the squad this season is Lilly Henderson.

“Obviously, I would like a few more freshmen than just one, but I think she shows some promise,” said Brucher.”

Coach Brucher said it is too early to tell what the strengths of this year’s team will be, but the biggest thing he has noticed is how well the girls seem to get along.

“They all genuinely root for each other and I don’t see any jealously among the girls, which is good to see,” he said. “If they are willing to help each other than they have a chance to be successful as a team. So far they have done a very good job of that and are being very supportive and encouraging.”

The biggest challenge the girls will have to try and overcome this year will be maintaining consistency in their scores.

“The biggest thing is consistency, and that is an obstacle of any team in any sport because when you are dealing with high school kids and teenagers it is a challenge getting them to perform consistently every match,” said Brucher. “It is not just consistency in scores, but also staying on an even emotional keel and keeping your emotions in check. We need to avoid the emotional roller coaster.”

As far as the team’s keys to success this year, coach Brucher said it is too early to tell.

“I expect Monica and Ashley to post good numbers and scores every time out,” said Brucher. “Emily VandeWiele is pretty solid and I have been impressed with the way Bailey Ries has played. The big thing is getting four to six people in the lineup that can score consistently, that is the true measure of success. If we can piece that together where each are competing against each other to make the team better that is when we really have something.”

With there not being an official conference that the Lady Leafs compete in, the girls have their sites set on getting ready for the postseason.

“We do have a conference golf meet and we will look forward to that,” said Brucher. “I guess a lot of the team goals will have to do with winning the unofficial conference title, moving on to sectionals, and placing higher in regionals and maybe win the regional.”

Last season, Lieving finished 35th at state with a 170 and 12th as sectionals to advance to state. The Lady Leaf team took fifth place at sectionals with a 435 and third at regionals to advance to sectionals.

Geneseo opens the 2013 season at noon Aug. 24 at the Rock Falls Invitational.