NCAA Women's Golf Championships: Arizona tops Stanford, advances to national title match

Arizona Athletics

Arizona women's golf has advanced to the match-play finals, while USC and Stanford have been eliminated at the 2018 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The eighth-seeded Wildcats will face second-seeded Alabama in the match-play finals on Wednesday.

Match-Play Semifinals

Arizona

The hot streak continued for Arizona, as the Wildcats defeated fifth-seeded Stanford to advance to the national championship match for the first time since the match-play format began in 2015. Haley Moore clinched the match for the Wildcats with a 3&2 victory over Mika Liu, building a four-hole lead in the first five holes and halving the 16th to send the Wildcats to the finals. It wasn't much of a contest up and down the lineup, as Arizona got a 5&3 win from Gigi Stoll, who was fresh off upsetting WGCA Golfer of the Year Lilia Vu of UCLA, while Sandra Nordaas needed just 14 holes to defeat Albane Valenzuela (6&4).

Arizona will go for its third national championship when it takes on the Crimson Tide on Wednesday, having won it all in 1996 and 2000. Here's a reminder from Arizona athletics guru Anthony Gimino on how the Wildcats won the 1996 NCAA title:

Stanford

Stanford's season ends in the match-play semifinals for the second straight year after having lost to Arizona State in the round of four last season. Shannon Aubert was the only Cardinal player in the lead at the time the match was called, leading by one hole over Yu-Sang Hou with one to play. While the Cardinal lost to Arizona, it looks like they have quickly put on its conference hat for tomorrow's Arizona-Alabama final:

USC

The Trojans' season ended in the match-play finals at the hands of second-seeded Alabama. The match ended when Alabama's Cheyenne Knight, who finished in fifth on the player leaderboard during the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships, birdied the par-4 17th to take a three-hole lead on Allisen Corpuz with just one remaining to give Alabama its match-clinching third point. Alyaa Abdulghany was the lone Trojan leading at the conclusion of the match, owning a one-hole lead over Lakareber Abe through 16 holes. Gabi Ruffels was all-square with Angelica Moresco, while Jennifer Chang lost 2&1 to Lauren Stephenson and Amelia Garvey lost 3&1 to Kristen Gillman.

Despite having advanced to the match-play portion of the NCAA Championships all four years it has been in effect, the Trojans have yet to advance to the match-play finals. losing in the semifinals in 2015 and 2017 and bowing out in the quarterfinals in 2016.

Earlier Tuesday –​ Match-Play Quarterfinals:

Arizona, Stanford and USC have advanced to the match-play semifinals at the 2018 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Four Pac-12 teams made it to the match-play portion of the NCAA Championships, with UCLA losing in the quarterfinal round. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played Tuesday, with the match-play finals to determine the 2018 NCAA champion on Wednesday.

Arizona and Stanford will play in one semifinal, while USC and Alabama will play in the other. This page will update when the semifinals are complete.

Arizona

Some 16 hours after squeaking into the match-play quarterfinals by edging out Baylor in a playoff, eighth-seeded Arizona took down top-seeded UCLA 3-2 after UCLA's Patty Tavatanakit couldn't match Arizona's Bianca Pagdanganan's birdie on the par-5 18th hole. Pagdanganan, who eagled the 18th Monday night to put a halt to Arizona's fall down the leaderboard and forced a playoff, nearly eagled the 18th hole again on Tuesday, narrowly missing a long putt. The native of the Philippines was clutch again, erasing a two-hole deficit with five to play to get the Wildcats to the match-play semifinals for the first time in program history.

How about some words from the Arizona legend?

Arizona got a huge boost when Gigi Stoll upset UCLA's Lilia Vu, the No. 2-ranked golfer according to Golfstat, 2 UP (Stoll is ranked 75th according to Golfstat), while Haley Moore got past Clare Legaspi 3&1 give the Wildcats their second point.

UCLA

UCLA's quarterfinal loss is nothing new for No. 1 seeds in match play. In fact, a No. 1 seed has yet to win the NCAA title since the match-play format began in 2015. Bethany Wu and Mariel Galdiano provided the Bruins with their two team points of the match, with Wu defeating Yu-Sang Hou 2&1 and Galdiano getting past Sandra Nordaas 3&1. On a brighter note, Lilia Vu was named WGCA Player of the Year earlier in the day:

Stanford

Andrea Lee held off a hard-charging Janet Mao to secure a 3-2 win for No. 5 Stanford over No. 4 Northwestern, setting up a semifinal match-up with conference foe Arizona. With the first four matches all ending before 18 holes, Lee held a three-hole lead with three holes to play, well-positioned to give Stanford its clinching team point. However, Mao sunk big birdie putts on the seventh and eighth holes (they started on the back nine) to win the holes and keep the match alive to the final hole. Mao needed one more big putt to force a 19th hole, but missed her birdie putt and conceded when Lee's birdie putt came within a foot of the hole.

Shannon Aubert (4&3 over Brooke Riley) and Albane Valenzuela (5&4 over Stephanie Lau) provided convincing wins for Stanford, which has now made the match-play semifinals all four years the match-play format has existed.

USC

Third-seeded USC defeated sixth-seeded Duke 3-1-1 to advance to the match-play semifinals, setting up a semifinal match with No. 2 Alabama (the Crimson Tide beat No. 7 Kent State 4-1). This is the third time in four years that USC has advanced to the match-play semis.

USC clinched the match against the Blue Devils when Amelia Garvey recorded par on the par-5 ninth and Duke's Ana Belac bogeyed the hole to give Garvey a 2 UP victory and the Trojans a match-clinching third point. The Trojans also recorded points from Gabriela Ruffels (1 UP over Jaravee Boonchant) and Alyaa Abdulghany (4&2 over Lisa Maguire).

The Trojans have won NCAA titles in 2003, 2008 and 2013 – can they continue the every-five-years trend in 2018?

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