Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Kelly Fang is a big reason why the Dons went 16-0 in PAL play this season
Aragon girls’ golf coach Guy Oling felt good about his team’s chances coming into the 2013 season.
Last year, the Dons finished a strong second behind Peninsula Athletic League champion San Mateo and, with another year of experience under his players’ belts, he believed they were poised for another strong season in 2013.
“San Mateo won last year. We came close,” Oling said. “I thought we played well last year. In past years, the team we had last year would have won league.”
This season, the Dons broke through in a big way. Not only did Aragon capture the league team championship — and the automatic Central Coast Section berth that comes with it — but the Dons did so by going a perfect 16-0 in league play, capping the perfect season with a 212-240 win over Burlingame at Poplar Creek Golf Course Thursday afternoon.
“This year, we had some experience with four juniors who have played (varsity) all three years,” Oling said.The Dons are led by junior Kelly Fang, who won the PAL individual title as a freshman in 2011 and was Aragon’s lowest scoring golfer all season. But what put the Dons over the top, in Oling’s opinion, was the play he got from his golfers behind Fang.
“It was a very good season and a balanced team effort,” Oling said. “From (Nos.) 2 to 6, we had contributions all the way around. That was the real difference.”
Valerie Chen and Tessa Ulrich could be considered the Dons’ No. 2 and No. 2A as they were that close, Oling said. Emily Paras slotted into the No. 4 slot for Aragon, with Lindsay Block rounding out the Dons’ normal scoring rotation. Only five of six golfers’ scores are counted in league matches.
Oling knew that to win the league title, the Dons would have to defeat the defending champs in San Mateo. In two matches against the Bearcats this season, Aragon twice won by five strokes.
Now that the regular season is over, it’s time for the postseason, beginning with the PAL Individual Championships starting at noon at Poplar Creek Tuesday. Not only will an individual be crowned the best player in the PAL, it is also a CCS qualifying tournament, where individuals and teams can qualify for the section tournament in Carmel in two weeks.
Oling said Aragon will have four of the top 10 seeds in the PAL tournament, led by Fang, who is the No. 2 seed, which puts her in the first foursome of the day. Joining her will be San Mateo sophomore Aman Sangha, the defending champion and the No. 1 seed, along with San Mateo’s Lisa Sasaki (No. 3 seed) and Menlo-Atherton’s Naomi Lee (No. 4).
Aragon’s Chen and Ulrich, as the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, will be in the second foursome, while Paras, as the No. 7 seed will be in the third grouping of the day.
The biggest adjustment for the players will be going from playing only nine holes during the regular season to now playing 18 for the postseason.
Oling, however, does not expect many issues for the tournament’s top players.
“At this point, for the top-flight players, they have played 18-hole tournaments before. They have the mental toughness,” Oling said. “It won’t be an overwhelming challenge.”