Julie MacDonell and Suzie Lee entered the final round tied for the lead and had matching scores as they approached the final two holes.  The girls golf individual state champion medal would indeed be returning to Suffolk, the only question was in whose possession.

Would it remain in the hands of Lee, the South Carolina bound two-time defending state champion from Commack who birdied the 15th and 16th to pull even?  Or MacDonell, the Harvard bound Sayville senior fresh off leading the Golden Flashes to a Long Island championship?

MacDonell managed to salvage par on No. 17 while Lee three-putted for bogey.  Nursing a one stroke lead on No. 18, MacDonell dethroned Lee, who parred out, by hitting an iron approach shot to within four feet of the cup and sinking the birdie putt to finish with a one-over-par 73 for the second straight day and a two-stroke victory in the state tournament yesterday at the College Golf Course at Delhi.    

“It was surreal,” MacDonell said.  “It was a really good way to end with a birdie and with my coaches and family all around.  It hasn’t sunk in yet but right now it’s pretty exciting.”

MacDonell’s win was an emotional moment for Sayville coach Tim Dillon, who had trouble seeing the action unfold on the 18th green.

“I had tears in my eyes watching so I didn’t really see too good,” Dillon said.  “I’ve know Julie since she was in 8th grade, I remember when she broke 60 for the first time.  To watch her develop and grow is really moving.”

The second place finish for Lee (73-75—148) marked an end to a stellar high school career that also included four county championships.

“The putting greens were a little slow and I left a lot of putts short,” Lee said.  “I’m kind of sad but it’s not the end of the world.  Even Tiger Woods loses matches so it’s OK.”

After shooting a 10-over 82 on Saturday, Victoria Snak of Smithtown West shot even-par 72, the best single round score of the tournament, to finish tied for third with a 153.  She helped Suffolk to a 56-stroke win for its fifth straight team championship with a combined team score of 1076, the lowest in five-year history of the girls state tournament. 

Sayville’s Jennifer Clinton (82-75—157) and Half Hollow Hills West’s Michelle Rosenhouse (80-77—157) tied for eighth place.  Sayville’s Cynthia Cheng (83-76—159) tied for 11th and Northport’s Cameron Lambertson (77-83—160) tied for 14th.  Longwood’s Emily Garrahan shot a 167 (88-79) to tie for 26th and Smithtown East’s Lindsay Shulock shot a 190 (97-93).   

Syosset’s Elizabeth Choi led Nassau with a 159 (82-77) to finish tied for 11th.  Samantha Sessa of Garden City tied for 28th with a 168 (85-83).   Her teammates Alex Michielini (85-87—172) and Erica Gambardella (86-89—175) and Sewanhaka’s Casey Durant (87-90-177) all had a top 40 finish.  Syosset’s Rohini Rudra (92-86) and Garden City’s Marisa Cameron (88-90) each shot a 178.  Garden City’s Laura Ketigian finished with a 184 (98-86) and Syosset’s Tara Petruzillo shot a 188 (94-94).

But the day belonged to MacDonell, who hopes to walk-on to the golf team at Harvard.

“I tried to stay within my own game,” she said.   “My coach has this mantra about taking it one breath at a time, one step at a time, one swing at a time.”

A mantra MacDonell has abided by, one victory at a time.

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