Stanford vs. UCLA in Pac-12 final at NCAA women's golf championships

Stanford vs. UCLA in Pac-12 final at NCAA women's golf championships

CARLSBAD, Calif. – On one side, a powerhouse program that has been in this position many times before.

On the other, a first-year head coach and a starting lineup consisting of three transfers.

Top-ranked Stanford will face UCLA in Wednesday’s championship final of the NCAA Women’s Championship at Omni La Costa. In what was an all-Pac-12 semifinal round on Tuesday, Stanford beat USC, 3-1-1, while UCLA took down Oregon, 3-2.

For the Cardinal, it will be their fourth time playing for a national championship since match play was introduced as the sport’s decider in 2015; Stanford won that year, lost in the final the next and then won again in 2022. The Bruins, meanwhile, own three national titles in program history, the most recent in 2011, when Alicia Um Holmes was an assistant.

After 17 seasons under previous head coach Carrie Forsyth, Holmes stepped into the lead job this season after Forsyth’s retirement. She added three transfers in Meghan Royal (Arkansas), Kate Villegas (UC Riverside) and Natalie Vo (Colorado) to group with standouts Zoe Campos and Caroline Canales, and the Bruins were a top-10 team all season; they entered match play ranked No. 6 in the country.

One of those transfers, Vo, earned the clinching point with a 2-and-1 victory over Minori Nagano. That followed blowout wins by Canales (7 and 5 over Karen Tsuru) and Royal (4 and 3 over Cheng-Tzu Chen).

“It’s kind of unbelievable, in our first year to make it this far," Holmes said. "It’s just been a great ride with this team.”

In the later semifinal, Stanford saw Megha Ganne win four straight holes to close out Brianna Navarrosa, who last year upset Rose Zhang in the anchor match as the Trojans eliminated the Cardinal in the semifinals. Kelly Xu then won three consecutive holes against USC’s likely first-team All-American, Catherine Park, to earn the clinching point courtesy a 3-and-2 victory. Sadie Englemann won convincingly, 6 and 5, versus Cindy Kou.

“We have had a great year," Stanford head coach Anne Walker said. "We have won five times. In a way we have been playing great all season, but you still have to come here and be ready to play. I think what is impressive is that you are able to show up and compete at the right time, and that is what they are doing.”