Wake Forest downs USC to claim first-ever NCAA Women's Championship
Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics
Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

For Wake Forest, their time was now.

Behind seniors Emilia Migliaccio, Rachel Kuehn and Lauren Walsh, the Demon Deacons won their first-ever national championship on Wednesday at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. with a 3-1 victory over Pac-12 Champion USC.

Wake Forest was able to get off to a fast start, winning the first hole in three of five matches to begin the day with the momentum that would stay with the team for the rest of the afternoon.

After Kuehn put the first point on the board with a 6&4 win over USC’s Amari Avery, the Demon Deacons never looked back in winning the title that has alluded them over the years.

Migliaccio, a graduate student who returned to Wake Forest this year after a season away from the team, broke open a tight match against Cindy Kou with consecutive birdies on holes No. 14 and 15 en route to a 4&2 win over the USC sophomore.

Walsh then provided the clinching point with a 3&2 win over Brianna Navarrosa with a conceded par on the 16th hole, setting off a wild greenside celebration for head coach Kim Lewellen's team.

“They worked incredibly hard, they are always working on the small things, the big things.” said Wake Forest head coach Kim Lewellen, “It was unbelievable to watch toward the end how they kept their grit, their foot on the petal and they got it done.

“I mean look at them, look at how happy they are. They worked incredibly hard, they are always working on the small things, the big things. Anything that they can do to gain half of a stroke. When you’re at this level gaining half-a-stroke, they made history for Wake Forest and these young ladies will have a memory of a lifetime. It’s incredible.”

Wake Forest's Mimi Rhodes had a birdie putt on the 17th green with a 2-up lead over Christine Wang when Walsh clinched it.

USC freshman Catherine Park, who finished one back of Stanford's Rose Zhang for the individual title, provided the Trojans with their lone point of the day with a 2&1 win against Carolina Lopez-Chacarra.

The victory at Grayhawk caps off a historic year for the Demon Deacons, which claimed six team titles and two individual titles from back-to-back ACC Player of the Year Rachel Kuehn. The Deacs have won 11 team titles over the last two seasons.

“Incredible opponent, start to finish to now they’ve been the standard in college golf," said USC head coach Justin Silverstein. "They’ve really been consistent throughout the year. Their one-to-five lineup is amazing."

With all five players expected to return next year - along with the addition of AJGA Rolex All-Americans Bailey Shoemaker and Frances Kim - the Trojans seemed poised to be back in the in the national championship picture next season at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.

"We got all five of these players coming back next year and adding a couple of new ones so I think we’ll be in a good spot," said Silverstein. "I’m not 100 percent sure we expected to be here. But Tiffany (Joh) and I knew if we took care of business we could be here, but once they got a taste of it, they wanted it. So they’ll take that into the offseason and work a little harder next summer and we’ll be ready to go.”

• • • • •

Final Results
Emelia Migliaccio (WF) d. Cindy Kou (USC), 4&2
Catherine Park (USC) d. Carolina Chacarra (WF), 3&1
Rachel Kuehn (WF) d. Amari Avery (USC), 6&4
Mimi Rhodes (WF) led Christien Wang (USC), 2 up
Lauren Walsh (WF) d. Brianna Navarrosa (USC), 3&2

Results: NCAA Division I Women's Championship
1CARose ZhangIrvine, CA150072-67-71-68=278
T2SpainLucia Lopez-OrtegaSpain100068-69-71-71=279
T2CACatherine ParkIrvine, CA100071-64-71-73=279
4AustraliaMaddison Hinson-TolchardAustralia70066-70-74-70=280
T5TXMichelle (Yunxuan) ZhangPlano, TX70072-72-67-70=281

View full results for NCAA Division I Women's Championship

ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship

30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying team make up the field for the championship of NCAA Division I women's golf.

After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance to match play to determine the team champion.

View Complete Tournament Information

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