It was a day of milestones for the East Brunswick High School girls golf team Tuesday.
The Bears won the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament for the first time with a four-player score of 179 — the lowest in tourney and program history. Freshman Sayaka Carpenter led the way with a nine-hole round of 42, good for first place after a match of cards with South Brunswick’s Julia Bae, who also shot 42 on Concordia’s par 35 course.
This is the sixth year of the GMC Tournament. East Brunswick’s highest previous finish was second, two years ago.
“We weren’t very good six years ago, and each year we’ve gotten better,” Bears coach Mark Motusesky said. “More girls are playing, they’re getting more involved, and that means they’re getting better.”
Sophomore Jackie Giancola placed third with a personal-best score of 43, sophomore Ruchita Valasubramanian shot 45, and junior Morgan Lee carded a personal-best 49 to round out East Brunswick’s scoring. Runner-up J.P. Stevens finished six strokes back.
“We haven’t won a lot of tournaments, so this was a really good victory for us and our school,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter’s round ended in nerve-wracking fashion as she waited while officials matched her card with Bae’s to determine the winner. It took three holes to break the tie as officials compared how the two players fared on the course’s toughest holes.
“I was panicking,” Carpenter said of the wait. “I was holding my friend’s hand saying, ‘Oh my gosh.'”
Carpenter, who also qualified for the NJSIAA Championships next Thursday at Cherry Valley, is believed to be the first freshman to win this tournament.
“She’s been fantastic all year, and she was a big-time clutch player today,” Motusesky said. “For her to win it as a freshman speaks volumes.”
TEAM SCORES: 1. East Brunswick 179; 2. J.P. Stevens 185; 3. South Brunswick 187; 4. Sayreville 193.
TOP INDIVIDUALS: 1. Sayaka Carpenter (East Brunswick) 42; 2. Julia Bae (South Brunswick) 42; 3. Jackie Giancola (East Brunswick) 43; 4. Alexis Harris (Piscataway) 43; 5. Melanie Ring (John F. Kennedy) 43; 6. Sophia Chen (J.P. Stevens) 44; 7. Kimberley Wu (J.P. Stevens) 45; 8. Ruchita Valasubramanian (East Brunswick) 45; 9. Sam Evans (Sayreville) 45; 10. Cecily D’Amore (Wardlaw-Hartridge) 45.