Ashland University's women's golf team will play this week in the 2015 NCAA Division II Women's Golf Championships.
And the Eagles might do so as close to being the "home" team as any squad in the field.
The Championships will be Wednesday (May 13) through Saturday (May 16) at The Meadows Golf Course in Allendale, Mich., and will be hosted by Grand Valley State. Twelve teams and 12 individuals not with a team will take part in the 72-hole tournament.
Ashland is one of the few northern-based schools in the field, but, in the end, performance will outrank climate.
"As a team, we are still ascending towards our best golf, and with our experience and competitive drive, I like our chances," said Ashland head coach Kory Oslie. "We know it won't be easy. This is 12 of the best teams in D-II. However, if we can get a little momentum in the right direction, we can definitely make a run at it."
The 12-team field includes Lynn, looking for its third consecutive national championship. Lynn is one of five top-10 teams heading to Michigan this week – Rollins (No. 1), Nova Southeastern (No. 2), Lynn (No. 3), Indianapolis (No. 6) and St. Edward's (No. 8).
Rounding out the field are Central Oklahoma (No. 14), Tarleton State (No. 18), Arkansas Tech (No. 22), Augustana (No. 24), Sonoma State (No. 25), Ashland (No. 27) and Findlay (No. 45).
Ashland's lineup will be the same as it has been all season – junior Ali Green, sophomores Kaitlin Neumann and Emily Jereb and seniors Madison Musick and Abby Tepe. All five players have competed in 26 rounds this season, and all five are averaging less than 83 strokes per round – Green 77.5, Neumann 78.1, Tepe 79.0, Musick 79.8 and Jereb 82.8.
Neumann and Green both have been adept at saving their best play for last, with Neumann averaging a 75 and Green a 77 in the last rounds of tournaments.
The Eagles have received improved play at both the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and the NCAA Division II East Super Region on Par-4 (4.32 and 4.37 averages, respectively) and Par-5 (5.52 and 5.29 averages, respectively) holes – their best showings since the early part of the spring season.
At regionals, Ashland also had its best team greens-in-regulation percentage of the spring, and the second-best showing of the 2014-15 season.
"I'm excited for our players. They have put a lot of time and work to get to this stage," Oslie said. "Last week, they showed great determination and desire as a team, finishing the last three holes in 2-under par.
"We are ecstatic to be here, but we know we still have work to do."