Chia amid title chase

With virtually a new cast of players, expectations weren't high at the beginning of the season for the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' golf team. Being in line to contend for a Pacific League championship or qualify for the CIF Southern Section Central Team Divisional seemed like a long shot nearly two months ago.

Crescenta Valley certainly surprised itself after what took place Tuesday afternoon.

Crescenta Valley finished second in league and punched its ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2008 after it shot a 225 at the league prelims at Brookside Golf Course No. 1 in Pasadena.

The Falcons (17-8 in league) finished fourth in league the past two seasons, leaving Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Lee Pope to partially rebuild his team.

"Even if we had taken third, I would have been happy," said Pope, who received an even-par 75 from sophomore Jocelyn Chia to earn medalist honors. "I believe we have exceeded our greatest expectations and we will get better.

"We've accomplished a lot and the Pacific League is a very tough league. The ultimate goal for us was to move on to CIF. They knew that if they played to their potential then that could happen.

"Now, we will get the chance to be in the playoffs and they will see the added pressure playing against a lot of other good players. It will be a good learning experience for everybody."

The top three teams from league automatically qualify for the team divisional, which will be held Oct. 27 at Jurupa Hills Country Club in Riverside County. Crescenta Valley will be joined by Arcadia, which shot a 210 on Tuesday to win the league championship, and Burroughs. Burroughs carded a 243 on Tuesday to finish fourth, but had already secured a top-three position prior to Tuesday's round. La Cañada took third on Tuesday with a 235, but finished fourth overall.

The league final will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Jurupa Hills. The top eight individual finishers advance to the Northern Individual Regional, which will be held Oct. 31 at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard.

Chia, the reigning All-Area Girls' Golfer of the Year, had another impressive round. With league individual placement dictated by the three best scores in the regular season, plus Tuesday and Thursday's rounds, Chia trails Arcadia's Katherine Guo by two strokes entering Thursday's final. Chia had a 37 on the front nine.

"She came into the season battling a sore wrist, but she's improved in every match since," Pope said. "You can count on her being up there trying to medal."

Chia said her short game paved the way.

"That help save me a lot of strokes," Chia said. "The course was kind of tough.

"[Jurupa Hills is] a narrow course. I want to keep my short game the same as I did [Tuesday]."

Crescenta Valley received an 89 from Audrey Chung, a 93 from Alice Yoon, a 98 from Deborah Chin, a 100 from Amy Park and a 112 from Yoojin Lee on Tuesday. However, only the front-nine scores counted toward Tuesday's final team score, Pope said.

Chung recorded a 42 on the front nine, followed by Yoon at 46, Chin at 48 and Park with a 52.

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