NCAA Women’s Golf Regional Preview
The Tar Heels are the No. 7 seed in a 12-team field that begins play May 9 in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional, but they hope to claim one of the four spots that will advance to the NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., Later this month.
First-year head Coach Aimee Neff leads a squad that is playing in a regional for the first time since 2019. No tournament was played in 2020 due to the Pandemic and UNC didn’t receive a team bid last year, although freshman Nicole Adam was invited to the Columbus, Ohio, Regional.
“Our objective hasn’t changed from our approach all season, which is to relentlessly execute each shot at hand to the best of our abilities,” says Neff, who was an Assistant Coach with the Tar Heels in 2018 when they played in the San Francisco Regional.
“We’ve trained all year and now we have an opportunity to show off the work we put in and play the best we can. We don’t have to do anything special, just play our individual games. These five players have all played well at times this season but haven’t put it together from start to finish as a group yet. But they’re trending positively and this is another opportunity to do that. “
San Jose State is the No. 1 seed in Ann Arbor, one of six regional sites across the country. Carolina will also compete against Virginia (2), Michigan (3), Arkansas (4), UCF (5), Virginia Tech (6), Washington (8), Ohio State (9), Pepperdine (10), Xavier (11) ) and Oakland (12).
The Tar Heesl are paired in the opening round with Washington and Ohio State.
Carolina’s lineup is the same that competed in three rounds of the NC State Match Play, where the Tar Heels defeated Duke and NC State, and the ACC Championship, where UNC placed sixth of 12 teams.
The starters include Juniors Krista Junkkari and Kayla Smith and a trio of sophomores, Natalia Aseguinolaza, Crista Izuzquiza and Nicole Adamthe only Tar Heel with previous NCAA experience.
Junkkari and Smith lead Carolina in a stroke average at 72.96 and 73.13, respectively, which are the pace for the two lowest in school history.
Smith earned a spot on the 2022 All-ACC team. The Burlington, NC, native’s career stroke average of 73.82 is also No. 2 in UNC history; Junkkari’s career average of 74.19 Ranks sixth all-time.
This is UNC’s 27th appearance in a regional since the NCAA went to this format in 1993. The Tar Heels have advanced to the NCAA Championship 12 times from the regionals, including most recently in 2017 from the Athens, Ga., Regional.
UNC’s best finish in the regional was second place in Daytona Beach, Fla., In 2011.