The UCF Knights Women’s Golf team was selected for its 8th NCAA Regional appearance in the last 11 years Wednesday.
The team will be traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 9-11 for its 7th NCAA Regional appearance in a decade under head coach Emily Marron. Coincidentally, Marron said the first tournament she ever traveled for as a Penn State freshman golfer in the mid-90s was played in Ann Arbor.
Here’s how the Knights reacted to seeing their names up on the board:
Marron said, considering the Knights’ regional tournament in Washington in 2019, that “no matter what, anything can happen at regionals.”
“We just got to focus on us and play our game and stay committed to the process,” Marron said.
The Knights were selected as the No. 5 seed in the tournament to compete against three schools they have already encountered three times this season: Michigan, Virginia, and North Carolina. While the team has never beaten the Wolverines or Cavaliers, it is 2-1 against the Tar Heels. Also competing in Ann Arbor are No. 1 seed San Jose State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Washington, Ohio State, Pepperdine, Xavier, and Oakland.
Marron said the team will be sporting the same lineup for the regional as it did for the AAC Championship, but with one change: All-AAC golfer Camille Banzet will be swapped out for Ana Laura Collado, making her 5th appearance this season. Banzet will still be available as a substitute for the team.
“I think working hard is something that has made me come all this way,” Collado said. “Being in and out of the lineup has been tough, but I know we have a pretty good team, a competitive team.”
Headlining the Knights in Ann Arbor will be AAC Player of the Year Tunrada Piddon. However, she is coming off a performance at the AAC Championship where a 3rd-round 79 (+7) lost her the individual title by one stroke.
It was part of a team performance that saw UCF shoot its worst round of the tournament by nine strokes. They ultimately lost the tournament by seven strokes to champion Tulane.
“We’re already prepared, but I feel we have to practice a lot more under pressure,” Piddon said.
Despite the stumble, Piddon is on track to break her program record in single-season scoring average from back in 2019-2020. With her current average at 71.36 strokes, she has to shoot a 230-stroke tournament (+17 at the Par 71 U-M Golf Course) or better to do so.
As Marron prepares for her 7th regional as a Knight, she said that to ensure a Top 4 finish and advance to the national championship, the team needed to have two things: a good start in the 1st round and contributions from the whole team.
“I mean, of course, your number-one player has to play well, but you have to have 1-5, everybody has to chip in,” Marron said. “Whether it’s the 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round, you have to have consistency from all five players to get to that national championship.”