Sports

Girls golf, just three losses in three seasons: Can it continue?

Mercer Island girls golf coach Don Papasedero has confidence in his team this season.

“This might be the best team ever to play here,” said Papasedero.

Those words might be expected by a proud coach and dismissed because of the source. But the facts of the preseason back up those words.

The girls golf team defeated Snohomish High School by 28 strokes last week. The Panthers were second in state last year at the 4A level.

“We are young, but there is a lot of talent,” said Papasedero.

That talent starts at the top with 2008 state-meet participant Lindsay Chinn. The senior placed eighth in state last year, but has her sights set much higher for her team.

“I’d love to be undefeated again and win KingCo, but I want to get more girls to state,” said Chinn.

The Islanders also return big scorer Jackie Pearson. Along with the top two players, the team brings back Casey Smalley, Kristen Numata, Alana Brooks, Vanessa Lam and Sarah Peterson.

The Islanders’ recent success has been incremental, but it is the difference between being the cat or the mouse in the standings. In 1998, the team finished 7-0 and then proceeded to have a very successful decade, never losing more than three matches in one season. The team took it to the next level during the past four years. Mercer Island has led the league through the majority of each of the past four seasons, culminating with a perfect 11-0 record and the 3A KingCo title last year.

“Many of the years, we would lose by just one or two strokes,” said Papasedero. “But now they expect to win and have fun. That is a tribute to the kids that came before. In this league, you almost have to run the table to win the league.”

The league’s competitiveness will change this season with its realignment. But the stiff competition will still be there.

“The road still runs through Bellevue,” said Papasedero. “It will be a tough league, as always.”

The Islanders will play their home games at Jefferson Park in Seattle. The team’s success coincides with its move there three years ago. While the team has lost just three matches in three years, just one was at Jefferson Park.

“It’s the most difficult course we play,” said Papasedero. “It’s hard to beat us at home.”

The team’s youth and inexperience at the high school level is the only thing that concerns the coach. But the talent is there.

The youth movement includes three dynamic freshmen: Chelsea Saelee, Hailey Chinn and Kayce Ogashima.

“We potentially have six players that could make it to state,” said Papasedero.

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