Despite losing three golfers to graduation last semester, the Loyola women’s golf team is returning most of its core from last season and looking to make a run in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
Now in her second year as head coach, Carly Schneider will return with her top two scorers, junior Elayna Bowser and sophomore Morgan Brown. Despite finishing seventh in the MVC championship last season, Schneider said she feels confident going into the new season.
“Knowing how they played last year is going to help me build off of what they’ve already established,” Schneider said. “Team goals, I think, are going to be building even stronger this year.”
Bowser, a sport management major at Loyola from Dearborn, Michigan, said the fact that Schneider is a Loyola graduate and in her second season as coach will make the team better than last year.
“She did go here, but now she has a year of coaching under her belt,” Bowser said, “So she’ll learn what she did wrong last year and make changes for this year.”
Since Wichita State University left the MVC for the American Athletic Conference April 7, Schneider said she, personally, feels the Ramblers’ mentality hasn’t changed regarding where they finish in the conference championship since Wichita State didn’t win last year.
With the admission of Valparaiso University to the MVC, Schneider will be coaching against a familiar foe, as she golfed at Loyola from 2010 to 2014 while the Ramblers competed against Valparaiso in the Horizon League. Schneider said Valparaiso’s addition will allow her team to compete against a school that is similar in academics and, like Loyola, has the disadvantage of playing in lower fall temperatures.
With Wichita State’s departure, Bowser said she feels the MVC playing field is more open than in years past.
“Wichita was a strong team. Now … anyone can win [the conference],” Bowser said. “It just depends on the day.”
Even with Bowser and Brown returning from last year’s squad, and knowing what the team is capable of, Schneider said she’s going to determine her top five golfers by playing qualifying rounds to test the skills they’ve sharpened over the offseason.
“Last year, I had no idea where the girls’ games were at,” Schneider said. “This year, [while] I know who qualified the most last year, I’m basing it off of the work that they’ve done over the offseason.”
After a strong first year with Loyola, Brown said that while she would have liked to have played more over the summer, she’s confident she can still make an impact.
“I was working [my job] a lot more over the summer, so that did cut into my practice time, but I definitely feel prepared for the season,” Brown said.
The Ramblers opened last season at the Redbird Invitational Sept. 4-5, 2016, which meant they had to play after one week of classes. This year, however, the tournament was pushed back a week, which Brown said gives the team some more time to prepare.
“This year, we do have a little more than a week to get ready and geared up for our tournament, whereas last year we had to jump right into it,” Brown said. “I think we’ll definitely be ready when we go to [Illinois State University].”
The Ramblers will start the season at Illinois State’s Weibring Golf Course in Normal Sept. 10-11.