With three pivotal seniors graduating last year from the undefeated Ridge High School girls golf team, coaches throughout the state foresaw a down season for the two-time defending state champions.
Except for Siobhan Devlin, that is. Devlin put faith in her inexperienced, unproven core and put their toughness to the test.
Ridge reloaded much quicker than even Devlin could have expected, going 12-2 this spring and winning the Skyland Conference Tournament, the North Jersey sectionals, and an unprecedented third consecutive NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title.
“I knew we had a shot, I didn’t really go beyond that,” said Devlin, the Courier News Girls Golf Coach of the Year. “I absolutely love these girls, love their families, and love the support that we got.”
Despite senior Hana Ku being the only Red Devil to partake in both last year’s and this year’s T of C, Ridge shot a cumulative 325 in the state final, good enough to finish 16 strokes lower than the rest of the field.
“We have a great group of sophomores,” Devlin said. “Katie Cappola and Nicole McCreesh were fabulous because they stepped up to the challenge.”
Devlin is very hesitant to use the word “dynasty” when talking about her program.
“I’m all about setting the goal and going through the journey,” she explained. “Getting over the bumps, and if we can go out and stay in it mentally and forget about bad shots, then we will be successful.”