After a strong 5-1 win against Georgia in their final competition of the regular season, the Cavaliers made it through the first two days of stroke play competition of the ACC Championships at the Reserve Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. before falling to No. 4 Wake Forest in match play. This was Virginia’s 18th appearance at the ACC Championships with wins in 2015 and 2016 and several runner-up titles.
The lineup for the No. 2-seeded Cavaliers included graduate student Beth Lillie, senior Riley Smyth, sophomores Celeste Valinho and Jennifer Cleary, and freshman Amanda Sambach.
The tournament began with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday where Virginia shot a 5-over 293 and 9-over 297, finishing the day tied for seventh with Louisville. Sambach had rounds of 70 and 72 to shoot an impressive 2-under 142.
Sambach had righted the ship by the end of Thursday, and the Cavaliers shot the day’s best score on Friday with a 2-over 290. This caused them to jump three spots up to fourth place after Friday. The team finished the stroke play portion of the tournament at 16-over 880.
Valinho placed 13th in stroke play and was tied for second in par 3 scoring with an average of 2.83 strokes. Cleary shot an even par 72 in the third round and placed 24th overall at 8-over 224. Lillie placed 28th at 255, and Smyth finished 39th at 230.
Sambach finished at 1-under 215 and tied for third, her best finish of the season. This was her third top-10 and she has placed in the top 25 in eight of her nine events as a freshman.
Four teams moved on to the Saturday match play event where Virginia played against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons overcame the Cavaliers 3-1-1 but it was not for lack of trying by the Virginia players.
Sambach continued her incredible season and became the only Cavalier to win a match. She defeated Wake Forest junior Lauren Walsh up six with four holes to play and managed to only lose one hole during the match.
Smyth tied her match against Demon Deacon graduate student Virunpat Olankitkunchai after being down two holes after 14. Lillie was defeated by freshman Carolina Lopez-Chacarra up two holes with one to play. Junior Rachel Kuehn beat Valinho, and sophomore Mimi Rhodes bested Cleary up five with three holes to play to clinch the victory for Wake Forest.
After defeating Virginia, Wake Forest beat No. 16 Florida State in Sunday’s finals to become ACC Champions.
The field for the 2022 NCAA Championships will be announced on April 27 at 5 p.m. on the Golf Channel. Should the Cavaliers be placed in the field, regional play will begin May 9 and the championships will start May 20.
Although it is not known who will be participating in the tournament in three years, Virginia has just been informed that Birdwood Golf Course, home of the Cavaliers, was recently selected as the host for the 2025 Division I Women’s Golf Regional Championship site. This will be the first time Virginia has served as host for NCAA postseason golf regional.