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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s golf team will have a chance to defend their 2014 title at the annual Cougar Invitational hosted by Cal State San Marcos at St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos, Calif. from Mar. 2-3. The Vikes will compete with four returning Vikes from last year’s winning team, while the addition of rookie Brianna Carrels will be nothing but a boost.

Joining Carrels are veterans Cari Chow, Michaela Abey, Shannon Raina and Laura Ferreira, while former Vike Alison Quinlan will travel as the team’s coach. The program’s head coach, Justin Clews, will be simultaneously in Santa Clarita, Calif. with the Vikes men’s golf team at the Master’s College Spring Invitational.

“We have had a lot of really good preparation through January and February and the team’s goal is to defend their tile,” said Clews. “I believe if the team plays to their ability they can win but even a top-3 finish would be really good for them.”

Despite lots of veteran strength, the fall 2014 season saw rookie Carrels leading the way. At the season opening Wolf Pack Invitational Carrels was the top Vike finishing tied for 21st overall while the team finished ninth. The Alberta native improved soon after to finish first overall at the Cavalier Classic in October and the team finished second. The Vikes women finished second in team standings at the Victoria-hosted Vikes Shootout and Carrels finished second individually. The ladies wrapped up their first semester of competition with a fourth-place finish at the Cougar Fall Classic and Carrels was again the top Vike with a second place finish.

“There is a bit of pressure on the girls in terms of trying to improve their NAIA ranking to qualify for nationals in May,” added Clews. “The girls are ranked 25th in the NAIA and a top-15 ranking pretty much secures your qualification and top-20 usually qualifies too.”

Cal State San Marcos are currently ranked No. 12 in the NAIA and, as hosts, will be the biggest competition to take the title. Other quality teams from southern California will also be in attendance, while the Vikes are the only Canadian team competing.

“The (Vikes women) that competed here last year said the course is really short and narrow but it’s not too hard,” mentioned Clews. “It’s definitely scoreable but again, like the men, they are going to have to battle it out in the rain, which is expected on both days.”

The Vikes women will get started on Sunday afternoon with a practice round while their first round of 18 will begin on Mar. 2 at 9:30 a.m. The final round of 18 will happen on Mar. 3 with a 8 a.m. shotgun start. The tournament takes place at St. Mark Golf Club, which is a par 72 with a yardage of 5,480.

Live scoring will not be available during the event, but follow @CSUSMGolf on Twitter to check-in for photos, videos and more during the event. Scores will be posted online at CSUSMCougars.com following each round and on Golfstat.com.

Travelling Roster

Brianna Carrels
Cari Chow
Michaela Abey
Shannon Raina
Laura Ferreira
Ali Quinlan (Coach)

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