Sophomore Emily Penttila has been named the 2014 Conference USA Golfer of the Year.
April 30, 2014
New Orleans - On the heels of its second straight Conference USA title, the Tulane golf team was well represented on the league's postseason awards, as sophomore Emily Penttila received C-USA Golfer of the Year honors, head coach Lorne Don was selected as the C-USA Coach of the Year, sophomore Silvia Garces was voted C-USA's Most Improved Player and five Green Wave golfers were named to the all-league teams following a vote by C-USA's head coaches.
Tulane claimed three of the four individual awards and its five players on the All C-USA teams were the most of any school. One week ago, Tulane captured its sixth league title with a 10-stroke win over runner-up UTSA.
Penttila joined junior Gemma Dryburgh on the All C-USA First Team, while Garces and fellow classmate Madison Opfer were selected to the all-league second team and freshman Belen Goicoechea was tabbed to the all-conference third team.
"As a coach in Division I athletics, if you can look at your all-conference teams and see your five starters on there that is something you can really be proud of and says a lot about the program," Don said. "Each of our players has worked extremely hard this season and I am very happy to see their time and dedication pay off with these awards. There are so many great golfers in our conference, so these awards are a great accomplishment for our program."
A native of Helsinki, Finland, Penttila becomes the sixth different Tulane player, and eighth total, to receive C-USA's top honor, joining three-time C-USA Player of the Year Pam Buff (1998, 1999, 2000), Alison Walshe (2005), Linn Gustafsson (2009), Janine Fellows (2010) and Maribel Lopez Porras (2011), and she is a repeat performer to the all-league first team.
This season, Penttila has played 27 rounds in 10 tournaments and leads the team with a 72.78 scoring average. Her rounds have counted toward the team score in 24 rounds and she owns 12 rounds of par or better, including a season-low 4-under 68 during the opening round of the 2014 C-USA Championship. Penttila has produced four Top-10 finishes, including a season-low third place effort at the conference championships. She was named the C-USA Golfer of the Week on Sept. 18 and was also selected the C-USA All-Tournament team.
"This award is a reflection of all the hard work and dedication Emily has demonstrated this entire year. She has played very consistently for us and is very deserving of this award. We are very proud of this accomplishment for Emily," Don said.
Garces, who hails from Cali, Colombia, claimed the inaugural C-USA Most Improved Player award. One year ago as a freshman, she produced a 75.97 scoring average and saw her score drop this season to a 73.73 average. Garces' average ranks third on the team and she has also produced nine rounds of par or better, including a season-low 2-under total on several occasions. She has played 26 rounds in 10 tournaments and her score has counted toward the team total 20 times. Garces has two runner-up finishes this season and was named the C-USA Golfer of the Week on Sept. 25. She is a first time selection to the All C-USA team.
"I am very happy that Silvia received this award because it is a great reward for her hard work. In looking at her average from last year and seeing the amount of raw talent she has, I was excited as a coach to work with her. She has put the work in and shown great improvement from day one. Silvia has been a consistent contributor for us all season and is well deserving of this award," Don said.
Dryburgh is three-time performer on the All C-USA teams, but is a newcomer to the all-league first team after receiving second team honors a year ago and third team accolades as freshman in 2012. The team's lone upperclassman, the Aberdeen, Scotland, native has been one of the team's most consistent performers since she arrived on campus. Dryburgh has played 24 rounds in nine tournaments this season and ranks second on the team with a 73.33 scoring average. Her rounds have counted toward the team total on 21 occasions and she owns eight rounds of par or better, including a season-low 4-under 68 during the opening round of the C-USA Championships.
Dryburgh has three Top-10 finishes this season, including a runner-up effort at the conference championships, and was named to the C-USA All-Tournament team. She also represented Scotland at the prestigious Spirit International last fall.
A native of Plant City, Fla., Opfer is a repeat selection to the all-league second team. This season, she has played 27 rounds in 10 tournaments and ranks fourth on the team with a 73.85 scoring average. Opfer has seven rounds of par or better, including a season-low 2-under total twice, and her best finish of first place came against the University of Denver in a dual match in March. Her rounds have counted toward the team score a total of 24 times.
In her first season of playing collegiate golf, Goicoechea had an immediate impact on the team. She played 27 rounds in 10 tournaments and ranks fifth on the team with a 75.00 scoring average, but has seen her score drop to a 74.44 during the spring. Goicoechea has seven rounds of par or better, including a season-best 3-under 69 during the final round of the UCF Challenge, and her score has counted toward the team total 19 times. She produced her best finish of the year with a fifth-place effort at the C-USA Championships and was named to the C-USA All-Tournament team.
In his first season at Tulane, Don became the fourth Green Wave skipper to earn C-USA Coach of the Year honors, joining Sue Bower (1998, 2002, 2004, 2005), John Thomas Horton (2009, 2010) and Andrew Pratt (2013). Don became just the second Tulane coach to lead the Wave to the C-USA title during his rookie season, joining Horton (2009), and it marks the eighth time a TU golf coach has received this award.
Under Don's tutelage, the Green Wave is currently ranked No. 31 (Golfweek) and is No. 8 in the country for scoring average (291.81), which also currently ranks as the best single season mark in school history.
"This has been a great first year and I am very fortunate for the opportunity given to me by Rick Dickson and Sue Bower to lead this program. I have really cherished and enjoyed the year and working with this outstanding group of student-athletes. I have to thank them, as well as the coaches that came before me that helped put this program on the national map. You cannot receive this award without great players and this is more of a reflection on them than the coaching," Don said.
"This is such a great honor for Coach Don and we are very excited for him," Penttila said. "He really deserves this honor. Coach has done a great job with us this season. It's great to know that you have a great coach leading your program. We already knew this before he received the award, but it's nice to see the extra confirmation.
"He is so positive every day and has done a great job of helping us individually, and not trying to coach us all the same way. I think that's important and that has made us a better team. He always has a great game plan for us at tournaments and is always there in those clutch moments to help us maintain our routine and our business."
Tulane will make its 11th NCAA Regional appearance next week when the team heads to the NCAA East Regional, May 8-10 at the Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla.
2014 All-C-USA Women's Golf Awards
Golfer of the Year: Emily Penttila, Tulane
Freshman of the Year: Camila Serrano, FIU
Most Improved Player: Silvia Garces, Tulane
Coach of the Year: Lorne Don, Tulane
All-Conference USA Third Team
Meghan MacLaren, FIU
Brandi Rodriguez, Southern Miss
Belen Goicoechea, Tulane
Taylor Newlin, UTSA
Brogan Townend, UTSA