The NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee has selected FIU’s golf team to play in the NCAA East Regional, to be hosted by Auburn University May 9-11. The 2013 Sun Belt Conference champions, FIU is seeded 18th among the 24 programs invited to play at the par-72, 6,259-yard, Auburn University Club.
The 2013 NCAA appearance is the second under FIU head coach Joe Vogel, the 2013 Sun Belt Coach of the Year, and the 13th overall postseason appearance by the FIU golf program since 1977. The Panthers last played in an NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Regional in 2011, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.
Three regional tournaments, East, Central and West, will be conducted May 9-11 to determine the championships field. Regional tournaments are considered preliminary rounds of NCAA championships competition, and all national championships policies apply. A total of 72 Division I programs, split into three groups of 24 schools, and 378 total participants have been selected for regional competition. Of these players, 126 will advance to the championships finals. Eight teams and two individuals will advance from each regional.
The championships finals will be held May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga. and will be hosted by Georgia.
The competing teams at the NCAA East Regional are as follows, by seed (conference champion): 1. Alabama (SEC), 2. Arkansas, 3. UCLA, 4. North Carolina, 5. Virginia, 6. Oklahoma State (Big 12), 7. Tulane (Conference USA), 8. Texas, 9. Notre Dame (Big East), 10. Northwestern (Big Ten), 11. Tennessee, 12. Kentucky, 13. Texas State, 14. Auburn, 15. Central Florida, 16. Penn State, 17. East Carolina, 18. FIU (Sun Belt), 19. Mississippi, 20. East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun), 21. UT-Chattanooga (Southern), 22. James Madison (Colonial), 23. Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley) and 24. Alabama State (SWAC).
The following six players were invited as individual competitors: 1. Natalie Wille, Augusta State, 2. Kelly Shon, Princeton, 3. Casey Kennedy, Augusta State, 4. Isabel Southard, Boston College, 5. Shu-Yin Liu, Tulsa and 6. Kristina Merkle, Tulsa.
FIU will be represented by five starters, featuring in order from one to five, freshman Meghan MacLaren (Cambridge, U.K.), senior Tania Tare (Auckland, New Zealand), junior Shelby Coyle (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), senior Yolecci Jimenez (Caracas, Venezuela) and freshman Sophie Godley (Nottinghamshire, U.K.).
All five FIU starters were recently named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team; the first time in league history a school saw all of five starters receive All-Conference honors. Additionally, MacLaren, the 2013 Sun Belt Conference individual champion, was named SBC Freshman of the Year.
FIU has faced 27 different schools selected to play in NCAA Regional competition, including 12 teams competing in the East Regional. In the East Regional, FIU has played in 2012-13, top-seed Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Central Florida, East Carolina, Mississippi, East Tennessee State, UT-Chattanooga and James Madison.