Prep Golf: Gilroy edges Cougars in crosstown match

Gilroy's Judith Diaz watches teammate Alessandra Esposito putt during a match against Gilroy Oct. 8 at Gavilan Golf Course.

GILROY—If it weren’t for their uniforms, it would be hard to tell the players from Gilroy and Christopher High schools apart. The Cougars and Mustangs interacted like teammates during their Thursday match at Gavilan College. To them, it was just like playing a round with friends.
“It was nice to play against Christopher and not so much think of them as rivals but more as a day of relaxing and playing the game,” said Lizette Alcantar, who led the Mustangs with a 45. “It was just fun playing with them. We helped each other out, but it wasn’t really a rivalry.”
As friendly as the contest was, someone still had to win. Gilroy came away with a narrow 291-296 win over the Cougars. Both teams were scored an automatic 81 for not fielding a full five-person team.
Christopher’s Mia Navarro was the match medalist, carding a 41 against Gilroy. The day was extra special for Navarro as she was paired with Gilroy’s Alessandra Esposito. Navarro and Esposito played together in the First Tee program where the Cougar mentored her and the two got to show off how their games have improved since.
“It was cool being able to play with her in actual scenario,” Navarro said of playing with Esposito. The Mustang carded the second lowest score on her team with a 50.
Both teams have struggled with fielding full teams this season, but said the lack of players hasn’t had an impact on their teams’ morale. Some players, like Alcantar, have commitments to other sports or choir, but enjoy every minute they get to spend out on the green with their teammates.
Coaches are hoping the strong team chemistry on both squads will help draw interest from more young ladies. The goal, both said, is to create a positive and fun environment that will hopefully appeal to other young female golfers.
“They actually cheer each other on when they’re playing,” Cougar coach Manuel Gallardo said. “They’re not sitting there secretly saying ‘yes’ when someone hits the ball bad. They’re lifting each other up.”
Gilroy coach Daniel Valdez added: “When we drove around in the golf cart, we saw a lot of smiles, a lot of laughing and things like that. It was good to see.”
There are just a few matches left in the season for both teams. As the regular season winds down, the Cougars and Mustangs are focused on cleaning up their games for the Monterey Bay League Championships on Oct. 26.
“You want to see yourself progressing because you do have another match at the end and its 18 holes, which is something they haven’t all seen,” Valdez said, noting the girls are in for a long day full of obstacles.
The Mustangs (3-6) will be back on the course at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Trinity Christian. Christopher (2-7) will tee off at 3:35 p.m. Tuesday at Salinas.