In addition to dealing with the loss of several key players to graduation, an injury bug has attacked the Tigers to compound matters. One returning veteran is already out for the spring with another trying to cope to remain on the tee.
"It's a tight situation," says coach Kate Stepanek. "We have to make the most of it. This limits our numbers but everyone in the program is putting forth the effort to make this as successful a season as we can have."
Three of the Tigers' top four golfers from last year - Elisabeth Herzfeld, Sara Eichelberger and Emily Kwak - closed out their college careers in 2011. Herzfeld was the last player remaining from Towson's original team in 2006-07. Kwak became Towson's first golfer in the history of the women's program to finish first in a tournament, having earned medalist honors at the Lonnie Barton. Eichelberger owned a share of the program's low round score of 73 with Herzfeld.
Three veterans - senior Airielle Dawson, junior Chelsea Harris and sophomore Casey VanDyke - were returning to form the 2011-12 nucleus.
VanDyke never made it farther than the first event this past fall. The fourth leading scorer last year with an 81.9 average, she's sidelined with a recurring injury. She's hopeful of returning to the links next fall.
Dawson paced the Tigers this past fall with a 79.1 average. The senior, who is the defending PGA of America Women's Minority Collegiate Golf Tournament's national champion, finished first for Towson in four of the fall's five events. She was forced to withdraw after the first round of the Fighting Camel Classic due to an injury. Her 18-hole scores of 75 in the Spider Invitational and the Wendy's Invitational were low rounds for Towson for the fall.
But a nagging injury continues to threaten her spring season.
"Airielle has a goal of finishing in the top 10 at the CAA tournament this year," says Stepanek. "With the work Airielle has put in off the course, and as the weather gets warmer, I really hope she will be able to play more pain free rounds to finish strong and leave her mark as one of the top golfers this program has seen."
Harris is the only other letter winner in this year's lineup. She played in three events last fall but did not compete in the final two because of an illness. She carried an 86.5 average last year.
Towson's numbers took another hit when freshman Liz Silbernagel left the program after the fall season.
Sophomore Carley Stenger and freshmen Francesca Ruscio and Victoria Frasco round out the roster. Stenger played in every fall event, averaging 93.3. Ruscio saw action in four tournaments, averaging 89.0. She was Towson's top finisher in the Fighting Camel Invitational. Frasco, out of South Carroll High School, has joined the squad for the spring and will play in the upcoming event at Kingsmill.
"Our course management has gotten better but we need to learn how to transfer it to scoring on the course," says Stepanek. "I am looking forward to how we play in these early tournaments."