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Girls Golf: 2016 North Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

Sometimes, a second chance is all a team needs to put forth its best effort.

That's precisely what happened to the Shady Side Academy girls golf team when the postseason for high school girls team golf began.

Competing in the same section as North Allegheny, Shady Side Academy lost two regular-season matches to the Tigers by scores of 155-178 and 170-184.

When the postseason began, it appeared the Indians had turned the corner as they won the qualifier by 14 strokes over the Tigers, 331-345. But in the WPIAL final, North Allegheny got solid efforts from WPIAL 3A individual champion Caroline Wrigley and Christina Lewis. Both sophomore had matching totals of 78 while senior Jessica Hood and freshman Esha Vaidya had rounds of 85 and 88, respectively.

Shady Side Academy started out their day with solid efforts from Casey Morrow and Katherine James. Each had rounds of 78. Alexandra Muracca was next with an 85, the same score as North Allegheny's Hood. But the difference in the match took place when Elisabeth Walsh shot a round of 89, one stroke higher than the Tigers' Vaidya.

But that second chance the Indians had hoped for took place on the sport's highest stage for high schools as both teams were invited to participate in the 3A team championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort. The PIAA didn't single out the top two teams from the WPIAL as the top two teams from suburban Philadelphia's District 1 also were invited to the six-team tournament final.

The WPIAL's best, however, were clearly better than the other four teams in the team final. And, Shady Side Academy's team put forth an effort worthy of championship with a team score of 330, eight strokes ahead of North Allegheny.

James tamed the Heritage Hills Resort course with a 4-over-par total of 76, the best effort of the day. Right behind her was Morrow with a 75. Muracca and Walsh, too, displayed the consistency they showed in the WPIAL final with scores of 88 and 89, respectively.

Wrigley and Lewis gave the Tigers hope with matching rounds of 79. But Vaidya shot an 85 and Hood a 95 to give the Indians just enough of an opening to claim the team title, their first since 2011.

Wrigley hopes to build upon WPIAL 3A Individual title: North Allegheny High sophomore standout Caroline Wrigley entered the annals of girls high school golf as a solid competitor as the WPIAL 3A Individual girls champion.

She likely wishes she would have had two more solid performances following the District 7 championship.

Firing a 3-over-par total of 75 to win the 3A Individual Title on Treesdale Golf & Country Club's Lakes/Orchard course, Wrigley set her sights on bigger prizes at the Western Regional and, possibly, the PIAA 3A Individual Final at York's Heritage Hills Resort.

She edged Peters Township senior Mia Kness by one stroke, despite tapping in for a double-bogey on the 18th hole.

"It means a lot to win as a sophomore because I haven't had as much experience as the seniors, so it's pretty cool to do it as a sophomore."

But a trip to Central Pennsylvania was not in the cards as Wrigley placed eighth at the 10-player regional final with an 8-over-par round of 80. Wrigley's round started out well enough with an even-par score of 36 on the front nine. But her troubles began when she double-bogeyed the No. 10 hole, and she bogeyed six of the next seven holes to put herself out of contention.

The good thing is that she has two years of high school golf remaining. An even more prevalent memory is that she won't forget what happened at the WPIAL final and in the regional tournament. And she will remember that the player she defeated at the WPIAL final, Kness, went on to win both the regional and state titles.

North Catholic ninth-grader has impressive tournament season: On most occasions, a ninth-grader on a golf team is just trying to find his or her way around both the school and the golf course.

Unless, though, you are Maddie Smithco, and one accomplishment on a burgeoning resume is that you played on a level with Penn State recruit and three-time PIAA champion Olivia Zambruno of Greensburg Central Catholic.

Smithco tied with Zambruno with rounds of 80 that put both of them two strokes behind Central Valley sophomore Kiaria Porter, who won the tournament with a six-over-par round of 78.

Smithco's next foray was at the Western Regional. She finished in a fifth-place tie with Porter with 12-over-par totals of 84. Both finished 11 strokes behind Zambruno.

But the form that Smithco displayed at the WPIAL tournament returned in a big way for her at the PIAA 2A championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort. After shooting a round of 82 on the opening day, Smithco roared back with a 77 to finish with a 15-over-par total of 159 for the two-day event, just two strokes behind Zambruno. Her effort was good enough to earn her the all-state accolades awarded to the top five golfers in the 18-player tournament.

In that tournament, Smithco defeated two stellar competitors from Central Valley, Alex Bozich and Porter. Bozich had a two-day total of 165, and Porter had a 170. Both of them also earned all-state honors.

Zambruno and Bozich both have graduated. So, with three years of high school golf remaining, the future appears to be bright for Smithco.

Avonworth's Carlson sets sights on solid senior season: After finishing seventh at the WPIAL 2A Individual Championship, Avonworth's Katie Carlson should have plenty of high hopes entering her senior season later this year.

Carlson shot an 89 to finish ninth at the PIAA Western Regional at Blairsville's Tom's Run Golf Course. Because she finished in the top 11, she earned a trip to the PIAA 2A individual championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort.

At that event, she placed 17th in the 18-player final with a two-day total of 193. Heritage Hills is a difficult course, but the experience she gained playing there likely will give her plenty of incentive heading into her final season.