The ASU women’s golf team have not been 100 percent healthy this whole season. But it has not and will not affect them.
Despite having its two top players struggling with injuries, the team ended the fall season with a No. 8 ranking and looks to improve this spring with a healthier squad.
Women’s coach Melissa Luellen expects her team to be competitive in every tournament of the upcoming season now that the players are stronger.
“Our goal this winter was to get everybody healthy,” Luellen said.
One of the team’s top players, junior Justine Lee, struggled with wrist pain during the first half of the season.
Even with the absence of Lee, Luellen feels confident that her team will remain competitive in the spring.
“We’re part of the strongest conference in the nation, and we’re competitive in every single tournament,” Luellen said. “Everyone has lowered their scoring averages this year.”
Another of the team’s leading scorers, junior Daniela Ordonez, dealt with nagging back pain throughout her team’s three fall tournaments. She was later diagnosed with with Behcet’s syndrome — a disease that causes inflammation of various parts of the body, including joints.
Luellen said Ordonez is improving, though her back issues are likely to linger.
“Dani is very mentally tough,” Luellen said. “She always battles through.”
Ordonez said she will continue to get stronger physically and mentally so her injury will bother her less during the season.
She credits her teammates for providing her with the strength and motivation.
“We’re a particular team because we’re all friends,” Ordonez said. “We find support in each other.”
Ordonez’s goals this year are to finish in the top 10 in each tournament and ultimately take the national crown, a common goal around the team.
Fellow teammate, junior Laura Blanco, also thinks a national championship is within reach this year.
Blanco said the team is waiting for Lee to recover from injury, but until she comes back, the rest of the ASU golfers must to step up by being smarter on the course and more committed to their game.
“We know what we need to do this season,” Blanco said. “It’s exciting for us to have to work hard to play better. There is no single leader on our team. Everyone is a leader and helps each other out to keep striving for success.”
She said her personal goals for the season are to keep lowering her score and make the All-Pac-12 team.
“The team will be congregating for their first team meeting of the season on Friday to discuss the schedule and to set goals for the season,” Luellen said.
Luellen said she expects her players to set lofty yet achievable goals.
The Sun Devils’ next tournament, the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, will take place Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 in Palos Verdes, Calif.
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