Eagles rally to advance to match play, fall to Midwestern State

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GLEN ROSE, Texas (April 19, 2022) – Needing a strong finish just to advance to match play in the Lone Star Conference Championship tournament on Tuesday, No. 8-ranked Oklahoma Christian produced one worthy of an elite squad looking to defend its 2021 LSC title.

Once in match play, the Eagles soon needed a second rally, but by that point, their virtual fuel tank was on empty and thus they fell 4-1 to No. 15 Midwestern State (Texas) in an afternoon semifinal match at Squaw Valley Golf Club’s Apache Links.

Even though OC won’t win a second straight conference championship, the Eagles no doubt will continue in the postseason, as they entered the LSC tournament at No. 1 in NCAA Division II’s South Central Region ranking. It won’t be official until Friday, but OC is a lock to make the field for the South Central-West Super Regional, which will be played May 5-7 at Pueblo Country Club in Pueblo, Colo. OC won a regional preview tournament on that course in early October.

OC entered Tuesday in sixth place in the 13-team LSC field, trailing fourth-place Texas-Tyler by eight shots, important because only four teams would qualify for match play. The Eagles set to work and made a slow and steady climb while battling three other teams – Tyler, St. Mary’s (Texas) and Texas A&M-Commerce – for that fourth spot.

Led by a stellar bogey-free 6-under-par 66 on the 7.063-yard course from sophomore Mateo Pulcini of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, OC closed the gap to six shots, then five, then four, and eventually moved into fifth place, one shot out of fourth.

With a big push on their respective final holes, the Eagles put themselves over the top. Senior Andres Brictson of Merida, Mexico, eagled the par-5 No. 8 to close out a 70. Junior Alejandro Armijo of Rio Rancho, N.M., birdied the par-5 No. 5 to finish off a 68 and freshman Oskari Nikku of Tuusula, Finland, birdied the par-4 No. 7, giving him a 72.

All of that meant OC matched the day’s best team score, a 12-under 276, and finished with a three-round score of 842 – one shot ahead of Texas-Tyler and two shots ahead of TAMUC and St. Mary’s. Midwestern State, West Texas A&M and Cameron secured the other three match-play slots.

Individually, Pulcini and Armijo tied for 12th at 209 (7-under). Freshman Exequiel Rodriguez of Buenos Aires, Argentina (who shot a 73) finished at 212, tied for 19th. Brictson was tied for 24th at 214 and Nikku was tied for 29th at 215. Texas A&M International’s Mauricio Figueroa was the medalist in the 65-man field at 200 (16-under).

OC, as the fourth seed, had to face Midwestern State in a semifinal match in a meeting many thought might be for the league title. OC jumped to early leads in three matches against the Mustangs, but held onto the lead in only one of them – at the No. 4 position, with Brictson’s 72 three shots better than the 75 by Midwestern State’s Ethen Wolf.

The Eagles were within a shot in two other matches down the stretch, but Midwestern State’s Jake Leatherwood (72) held on to beat Armijo (74) at No. 3 and in a battle of the LSC’s top two players at No. 1, Jake Doggett (67) rallied to beat Pulcini (70).

In the other matches, Garrett Leak (68) beat Rodriguez (71) at No. 5 and Mason Mikeska (67) downed Nikku (72). Midwestern State advanced to face West Texas A&M – which beat Cameron 4-1 in the other semifinal – in the Wednesday morning title match.

The Eagles did keep alive their impressive streak of not having finished lower than fourth in any of their 10 tournaments this season.

RESULTS

MATCH-PLAY RESULTS

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Ken MacLeod

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