Heading into their match-up Thursday afternoon against Centennial — the county’s only other undefeated girls team — Howard’s senior duo of Alex Abrams and Jacqueline Cherry admitted to feeling a little more nervous than usual.
After all, a bid for the program’s fourth straight county title was on the line.
Yet, once the round began, those nerves disappeared and were replaced by excitement as the Lions’ duo fed off another to set the tone for a 65-52 victory at the Timbers at Troy that improves the team to 6-0 on the season.
“We were definitely nervous going into it, but it was a good nervous,” said Abrams, who finished with a career-best 24 points (3-over-par). “We were excited to get out there and I think we really did our best and had a great day.”
Abrams’ round, which included six straight pars to finish her day, was backed up by 23 points from Cherry in the top pairing. Their efforts, combined with 17 points from Logan Lurie and a point from Morgan Cooper in the second group, helped Howard to its highest team total of the year.
Lions’ coach Joshua McGoun said the team had been looking forward to this match since the season began and elevated their games accordingly.
“You could tell when they showed up today that they were focused, they had a ton of energy and they were prepared. I think naturally there are going to be nerves, but the key is what you do with those nerves,” McGoun said. “I think our girls were able to take them and still stay loose enough to have fun out there. And that’s really been the key for us over the years, keeping it fun.”
While Howard’s top two set the pace, they had plenty of competition from Centennial’s top player Isabel Trojillo. The Eagles’ senior posted her own round of 23 points, which included a birdie on the par 3 fifth hole.
“It was a fun match and we were all really close most of the way, with me being one-over through five and Jackie starting with all those pars in a row. Then Alex finished really strong … so yeah it was nice to be a part of that,” Trojillo said. “As a team, I think the weather being bad the last couple days and not being able to play hurt us a little. But overall it just wasn’t our day.”
Behind Trojillo, Centennial (5-1) also got 12 points from Morgan Taylor, nine from Megumi Fukuzawa and eight from Joanna Park.
Ultimately, Howard was just too much.
Cherry opened her round with six straight pars, making several clutch putts along the way. And, when she did happen to stumble over the final few holes, Abrams was there to pick her up.
Abrams started with a double bogey and made another bogey on the third hole, but after that she hit her stride and played clean golf the rest of the way. Her 24 points bested her previous season high of 22 points.
“I started my match a little bit shaky, but she started hers strong so that was helpful that we had the balance,” she said. “Even when we would have rough shots, we would make great recoveries. Just having a teammate there with you playing at that consistent level definitely helps to push you and keep you going.”
In the second group, Lurie’s day was highlighted by a birdie on the par 4 third hole. She also made clutch up-and-down pars on the first and seventh holes.
Howard has three matches left, two of which are tri-matches, in the regular season.
Howard 65, Centennial 52
Ho (6-0): Abrams 24, Cherry 23, Lurie 17, Cooper 1.
C (5-1): Trojillo 23, Taylor 12, Fukuzawa 9, Park 8.
Other Girls Golf Score:
Glenelg 40, Oakland Mills 8
Ally Abruscato (15 points) and Alex Stone (13) led the way to the victory, which improves the Gladiators to 5-1 this fall.
G (5-1): Abruscato 15, Stone 13, Kunzelman 8, Ruddo 4.
OM (2-4): Luthardt 5, Claxton 2, Compson 1.
Boys Golf Scores:
Centennial 77, Howard 51
In a battle for positioning in the middle of the county standings, the Eagles got a match-high 23 points from Kenny Chaplain and cruised to the victory.
C (4-2): Chaplain 23, Watson 19, Fukuzawa 19, Sams 16.
Ho (4-2): Gupta 16, Pool 14, McLamb 12, Goldberg 9.
Glenelg 67, Oakland Mills 40
The Gladiators got a match-high 21 points from Brandon Writt, along with 19 points from Caleb Taylor, on the way to the victory over the Scorpions at Crofton Country Club.
G (5-0-1): Writt 21, Taylor 19, Forester 14, Vincent G 13.
OM (2-4): Fairbanks 19, Carroll 14, Atkins 4, Mays 3.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports