Taking part in one of the most exciting finishes in Missouri Valley Conference history, the University of Evansville women’s golf team outdueled UNI in a sudden death playoff…in the snow…to secure the first league championship in program history.
On top of the team performance, Sophia Rohleder won the individual championship, besting the competition by two strokes while head coach John Andrews was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Andrews is passing the award to former UE head coach Jim Hamilton, who retired last year. UNI’s John Bermel also received the honor.
“When I met this team after becoming head coach, I could see that they were a confident group about succeeding in this event; not necessarily saying they would win, but confident about their ability to succeed,” Andrews exclaimed. “I am so proud of this team and their effort throughout the tournament. Sophia was the best player in the conference this week. Alyssa (McMinn) played really well for the full event and made some big shots. Caitlin (O’Donnell) had a phenomenal first round on Monday that put us in the lead and set the tone for us.”
“Through the first 12 holes today, nobody on that course played better golf than Allison (Enchelmayer) and Mallory (Russell). It was a total team effort. They played through awful conditions today, but came out on top.”
Tuesday’s final round saw Northern Iowa rally to tie the Purple Aces with 942 strokes and force a sudden death playoff. The teams took to the 18th hole while battling the wind and snow. Evansville dominated the playoff, winning in one hole. While there were no “scores”, Evansville’s final player putted out and UNI could not force a tie, which gave the Aces the win.
“The girls had a great attitude heading to the playoff – they said that after three rounds, all we need to do is win this hole to take the championship and that is exactly what they did,” Andrews added. “Our girls flat out dominated the playoff.”
UE battled the elements throughout the day to finish in a tie for the top spot to force the playoff. Following a sunny start to the tournament on Monday, Bogey Hills Country Club saw snow falling on Tuesday morning. Rohleder recorded an 80 in the final round to clinch the medalist position. Her final tally came in at 229, which defeated UNI’s Emily Snelling and Missouri State’s Abby Cavaiani by two strokes. Her rounds on Monday finished up at 75 and 74. Rohleder was Evansville’s second individual conference champion, joining Kayla Katterhenry, who won as a senior in 2017.
“I remember Coach Hamilton telling me I could be the MVC champion prior to my junior year, but unfortunately it got canceled. That had me believing that anything was possible and winning the first two tournaments this season gave me a lot of confidence,” Rohleder said following the win. “But winning this as a team means so much more – it was unbelievable having our entire team up there receiving the trophy. Everyone worked so hard for this.”
“Being a senior makes it even more special – I thought this would be my last tournament, but it’s not!”
In a tournament that saw each and every stroke play a pivotal role in the end, Allison Enchelmayer was second for UE and tied for 12th in the final standings. After scores of 76 and 78 to open the tournament, Enchelmayer carded an 83 on Tuesday. Alyssa McMinn picked up a top 20 finish, tying for 17th place. Her final tally finished at 240.
Caitlin O’Donnell came home in 21st place with a final score of 243 while Mallory Russell completed the tournament with a 248.
Prior to this season, the Aces had not finished better than 7th place in the team standings.
With the win, the Aces earn the league’s automatic NCAA bid. Their destination will be announced at the selection show on April 28, which will be carried on the Golf Channel.