MIDDLEBURY — For the first time in a decade, the NorthWood girls golf team enter the Northern Lakes Conference portion of their schedule not as the defending NLC champions in some capacity.Their 57-match winning streak in conference was snapped last fall by Concord, and the Panthers also fell to the Minutemen in the conference tournament as well.Despite not being the defending NLC champs, the No. 17 Panthers enter the conference slate as the favorites to win the crown once again. They took the first two steps towards re-claiming their throne with victories over Northridge and Goshen Tuesday at Meadow Valley GC in Middlebury. NorthWood shot a 192 to get two NLC wins, while Northridge’s 206 earned them a win over Goshen’s 219.
“The message we’ve pretty much always given, especially with this group this season … one, we have to be extremely focused on who we are and what our strategy is for each course,” NorthWood coach Adam Yoder said. “Two, to be patient. The NLC championship is 54 holes — it’s four, nine-hole matches and an 18-hole tournament. You’re not going to win or lost it (Tuesday); it’s going to be how we play over the course of the next three weeks.“And then, three, just continue to handle ourselves with class. I think that’s one thing we’ve always been proud of, is the type of people that our kids are and the way they handle themselves, on and off the course.”NorthWood played the match slightly shorthanded, as their No. 1 player, senior Cybil Stillson, did not play for rest reasons. Fortunately for the Panthers, they have a capable No. 2 singles player in Bre Goss. The senior slid up to the No. 1 spot and shot a 41 to earn medalist honors.“There’s no doubt in my mind that Bre (Goss) and Riley (Kitson) and Kira (Schrock) and Bella (Sechrist) understand what we’re about,” Yoder said. “You could pile all of the excuses you want in front of them — Cybil taking a rest day, the heat; there’s all sorts of things you can point to right now … they didn’t take any of those excuses. They came out, did what they had to do and we won our first two NLC matches, which is super exciting.”NorthWood is one of the busiest teams in the area, having played in eight, 18-hole tournaments already. After they entertain Wawasee and Plymouth in an NLC match Thursday at McCormick Creek, the Panthers will head down to Bloomington Friday to prepare for the Indiana HS Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame Invitational Saturday at the Golf Club of Eagle Pointe.It’s the eighth time in program history and sixth-straight season that NorthWood has been invited to play in one of the toughest tournaments the state has to offer.NORTHRIDGE, GOSHEN LOOK TO IMPROVEAfter having their best 18-hole performance Saturday, Northridge followed up with a win in NLC play. The Raiders were led by Karisa Dyer’s 45, which was the second-best score posted across the three teams.
“What’s different about this year than my previous successful ones are that I have girls that don’t really know a lot about golf, and so you’re coaching them up and they’re very coachable,” Northridge coach Ken Brewster said. “They practice hard. They listen and they’ll do anything you ask. They’re just young golfers. … It’s just trying to keep them positive and let them understand that they are getting better.”Goshen was led by Maya Narayan’s 51. For RedHawks coach Jenna Pecenka, making sure her players get playing time in — even when they’re not playing — in tournaments is key.“It’s tough for the girls that don’t play all the time,” Pecenka said. “If the girls are playing on Saturdays, they’re playing, but the other girls that aren’t always in the varsity lineup or JV, they don’t go out and usually play Saturdays. I’ve been trying to push that, but it doesn’t always happen.”NorthWood/Northridge/Goshen girls golf 8/24/21 — resultsPlayed at Meadow Valley GC in Middlebury1. NorthWood, 192 — Bre Goss 41 (medalist), Riley Kitson 46, Kira Schrock 52, Bella Sechrist 53, Juli Blosser 72.2. Northridge, 206: Karisa Dyer 45, Isabela Lawrence 51, Addy Irving 55, Lizzy Irving 55, Maria Papandrea 61.3. Goshen, 219 — Maya Narayan 51, Briza Tayagua-Delgando 53, Kiley Wise 55, Kendall Hill 60, Sarah Kim 62.Nine-hole match records: NorthWood 3-0 (2-0 NLC); Northridge 2-4 (1-1 NLC); Goshen 0-2 (0-2 NLC).