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Moment of the Year: #1
Women's Golf Wins First NAIA Championship In Dramatic Fashion


In the most dramatic, thrilling and unusual NAIA Women's Golf National Championship ever, California Baptist University used 73 holes to wrap up its first-ever NAIA National Championship, beating Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in the first playoff in national tournament history.

The frustration of the last two years of near misses and third place finishes vanished in an instant with a six-foot putt.

It gave CBU the last of its 22 NAIA titles.

But that's the end of the story. The beauty of this year's No. 1 Moment of the Year lies in the previous four holes, if not the entire 18, plus one.

In third place trailing both Oklahoma City and Embry-Riddle with four holes to play in the final round, the Lancers rallied, caught and passed OCU and then got a clutch birdie putt from Nathalie Silva on the final stroke at 18 to catch Embry-Riddle and force a playoff where they eventually beat ERAU for the title.

"Over the last four years we've had great teams but couldn't get over the hump," said CBU Head Coach Lane Pace, who was named NAIA Coach of the Year. "We knew this was our last chance, and that's all we talked about-getting here and giving ourselves a chance on the final day. The girls stepped up and got better every round."

At its core, golf is an individual sport, but this championship was truly a team effort.

Samantha Katz was steadily in the low 80s all week until the final round when she uncorked a 77 (+4), her best round of the week. She played the front-nine at +1 and then came up with two big pars at 17 and 18 when her competitors were struggling.

Two-time All-American Adriana Niclotti struggled her way to a pair of 82s in the second and third rounds, but came back like the All-American she is with a steady 78 (+5) in her final collegiate round.

After a rough opening round on Tuesday, Sara Koizumi got better each and every round and saved her best for last, firing a one-under (72) that featured five birdies and was the lowest round of the day and second lowest of the tournament. Her relentless domination of the course kept the Lancers in contention from the start of the day.

"After my first round, I didn't want to let my team down and needed to step it up and make sure my score had a positive impact on the team," said Koizumi afterwards.

Silva, who was tied for the individual lead heading into the final round, struggled to a +7 (80), just her fifth round all year worse than 78, and losing out on the individual title but forcing the playoff with her massively clutch birdie putt on her final stroke at 18.

And that was after a double-bogey at 17.

 "We were on the fairway at 18 and I looked at Nathalie and said 'it's time for you to be my hero,'" said Pace. "She looked at me square in the eyes and said 'ok coach' and proceeded to hit the ball within 10 feet of the cup. Then she just buried it, and that was unbelievable."

Then there was freshman Kirsten Keyser, who incidentally didn't have her final-round 86 factor into the team score that day. Yet, as the day would have it, she was given a chance at redemption on the playoff hole, and she was the one who drained the championship-clinching six-foot par putt.

Indeed, all five players had a hand in this championship.

The playoff was unlike anything ever witnessed in the sport. All 10 players for both teams played the playoff hole (hole No. 4, a 362-yard par 4) as a 10-some, with the top four scores counting.

If history were any indication, the Lancers had their work cut out for them as they played the fourth hole at +12 the entire week. Embry-Riddle played it at +9. But this set of Lancers was not to be deterred even with Embry-Riddle's heavy hitters launching balls off the playoff tee.

All 10 tee shots got off safely, but just three were in the fairway; two of them had Lancer logos on them.

One by one the 10 players hit their second shots towards the green. Unfettered by the moment and with nerves of steel, CBU calmly put all five of its balls right in the center of the green, along with three balls from Embry-Riddle. However, two of ERAU's balls sailed left of the green and were in trouble. One of those ended up a bogey, the other for double bogey.

Niclotti put in the Lancers' first par, which was remarkable in and of itself since her tee shot landed on the adjoining No. 7 fairway to the left. She nailed her second shot right over a tree and onto the heart of the green and two-putted for a cool par.

After Embry-Riddle had to take its bogey, Koizumi who was steady as a rock over the final three rounds of the tournament, sank the only birdie of the playoff to give the Lancers a huge advantage.

Katz followed Koizumi with a bogey, barely missing her par putt, and Silva put the Lancers in position to win with a very tricky, four-foot, downhill, left-to-right par putt. The All-American tapped it in putting the Lancers in position to win it with just one more par.

It came off the putter of Keyser and sent the Lancers into the record books.

Moments of the Year: #2 - Women's Basketball Wins GSAC Tournament Title
Moments of the Year: #3 - Cross Country Runs First Race After Tragic Accident
Moments of the Year: #4 - Women's Swimming and Diving Wins NAIA Championship
Moments of the Year: #5 - Women's Volleyball Beats Fresno Pacific
Moments of the Year: #6 - Baseball Wins Second Consecutive GSAC Championship
Moments of the Year: #7 - Men's Volleyball Wins Eighth National Title
Moments of the Year: #8 - Softball Beats Okla. City/CS San Marcos at NAIA Tournament
Moments of the Year: #9 - Men's Soccer Defeats NCAA DI Sacramento State
Moments of the Year: #10 - Stieger Nets 400; Holden, Gorham Break Records
Moments of the Year: Honorable Mention

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Wednesday, September 17
Women's Soccer vs. Cal State L.A. - 2:50 pm
Thursday , September 18
Women's Volleyball vs. Holy Names - 6:50 pm