IRVINE — Even though the Corona del Mar High girls' golf team lost, Coach Mike Starkweather could extract some positives from the Pacific Coast League match against host University.
"Considering we were 0-16 last year and our best score was 244, [Wednesday's score] was 40 shots better than that," Starkweather said.
CdM shot 204 while University shot a season-best 196 on the front nine at Strawberry Farms Golf Club.
Freshman Amy Matsuoka paced CdM with an even-par 36 while senior captain Emily Turner and junior Ann Kim each shot 41. Junior Karlie Moses and sophomore Hanna Hogan each finished with 43 for the Sea Kings (2-4, 1-2 in league). University's Kristen Lee was the medalist with a 35 while sophomore Nitya Bhardwaj shot 37 followed by a 38 from teammate Joanna Cheng. Susan Lee and Mina Rhee each tallied 43 for the Trojans (5-2, 3-0).
"[A 204] would win most high school matches," Starkweather said.
The improvement is evident and he said players have been working hard.
They spent 1 ½ hours working on putting Tuesday at Newport Beach Country Club.
Hogan acknowledged she benefited from the practice time.
"Last year Hanna was shooting 57 and 58," Starkweather said, noting Hogan's 43 as progress.
Matsuoka has started the year off strong, medaling in five of the team's six matches.
"She has helped raise the bar," Starkweather said of Matsuoka's contribution.
Matsuoka was pleased with her approach shots against University and when asked what her mindset was before each shot she replied, "Do the best you can do."
She birdied two of the first six holes. Matsuoka reached the green in two on the 370-yard par-five sixth hole and two-putted for a 4. She two-putted for par on the par-three seventh and added another par on the 208-yard par-four eighth.
"Her talent and level of play is extremely good," Starkweather said.
In the early going Matsuoka said her teammates have welcomed her by being talkative. "It's fun meeting new people," she said.
CdM returns to league play against Woodbridge Thursday at Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course in Irvine.
Starkweather said the Pacific Coast League, which includes defending CIF Southern Section Southern Team Regional champion Northwood and Beckman, is so tough that a team could finish fourth and still reach CIF with enough scores hovering around 200.
"But we've got to finish fourth. Consistency in golf is hard to do."