Trojans pull together for Pac-10 win

USC players and coaches celebrate after winning the 2011 Pac-10 Women's Championship.
USC players and coaches celebrate after winning the 2011 Pac-10 Women's Championship. ( Courtesy USC Athletics )

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz. – The top-ranked USC women’s team was shorthanded during the final round of the Pac-10 Women’s Championship on April 19 after losing highly ranked junior Lisa McCloskey for the final day because of a rib injury. With the remaining four Trojans knowing that their scores would have to count, they came through in style, shooting a 3-over 291 in the final round and an even-par 864 total to close out a five-shot victory over Arizona at ASU Karsten Golf Club in Tempe, Ariz. UCLA finished third, nine shots back, followed by California, Stanford and host Arizona State.

USC’s Sophia Popov, a freshman from Germany, won a one-hole playoff over UCLA’s Tiffany Lua for the individual title. She shot 69-71-70 for a 6-under 210 total. It was her third victory of the season, as well as the Trojans’ third team title.

Popov joined senior Lizette Salas (T-6), sophomore Cyna Rodriguez (T-6) and freshman Rachel Morris (T-29) in making sure the loss of McCloskey, who is No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, didn’t derail their title hopes. It is hoped McCloskey will return for NCAA regional play May 5-7.

“The team had to play for (Lisa) and for each other, and they played great,” USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. “They did a great job. Each player went through a little bit of struggle, but they all fought back. They played clutch.”

USC last won the Pac-10 title in 2008, which was the second leg of a four-tournament winning streak that ended with the 2008 NCAA title. That was also the last year USC won an individual Pac-10 title (Paola Moreno).