HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. -- Williams ran away from the field Friday to capture the 2015 NCAA Division III Women's Golf Championship — its first national title in the program's 11th year of existence.
The Ephs held a six-stroke lead heading into the final 18 holes and second-place Washington (Mo.) immediately cut that to three strokes early in the day, but it could not keep pace with Williams, which tied Hanover with a round-best score of 26-over par 314.
Williams wound up winning the championship by 17 strokes on second-place Wittenberg after rounds of 319-322-309-314 for a four-day total of 1,264. The Ephs shot 1,285 last year in finishing third — their previous highest NCAA finish.
Sophomore Sarah Haselman and first-year Phoebe Mattana led the way for Williams on Friday, both finishing wih rounds of 4-over 76. Sophomore Sophie Kitchen was right behind with a 5-over 77 and she was the highest Eph individual finisher with a four-day total of 308 (79-75-77-77), which landed her in third place overall.
Mattana finished tied for seventh individually with a four-day total of 314 (83-79-76-76) and Haselman was tied for 15th with a four-day total of 320 (81-83-80-76). Sophomore Tracey Kim shot an 85 on Friday and was tied for 21st with a 322 (80-81-77-85) and senior captain Shelby Shoate shot a 91 final-round score and placed 55th with a four-day total of 341.
The top three Ephs on Friday were simply par machines. Haselman was a 2-over on the front 9 with seven pars, and a 2-over on the back 9 with seven pars to earn her 76 with 14 pars on 18 holes. Mattana was a 3-over on the front 9 with a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole, and a 1-over on the back nine with a birdie on the 11th hole. She finished with 10 pars, including her final five holes of the day, to earn her 76.
Kitchen was a plus-4 on the front 9 with a birdie on the seventh hole, but got consistent on the back 9 with eight pars, including the final seven hole she played.
This is the fourth consecutive year Williams has finished in the top five at the NCAA championship (third, fifth, fifth).
It was the the 31st NCAA title won by 10 different Ephs teams.