St. Anthony's girls golf team won the CHSAA championship, overcoming the odds at every turn.
After starting the season with a 2-2-2 record, the Friars finished the regular season on a seven-match winning streak to qualify for the playoffs. Then they knocked off top-seeded Holy Trinity, 4-1, in the semifinals on May 14 and beat defending league champions Kellenberg by the same score on May 15.
Coach Yvette Davis said the team's strength of character and ability to come together were the catalysts for the turnaround, and praised the quartet of Stephanie Kinalis, Julianne Buff, Stephanie Browne and Gabriele Cessino, who led the team in the playoffs.
"I am extremely proud," Davis said. "They were all very strong, very determined and consistent."
"It was a great way to end off my senior year," said Kinalis, a senior. "We all worked really hard to get there. We all worked together and as a captain, that made me proud."
Browne, a sophomore and fellow captain, said the team was undeterred after the subpar start.
The "emotional state of the team was confident, dedicated and determined," said Browne, who also finished in third at Tuesday's CHSAA individual championship.
Buff, a junior who led the Friars in the title match by shooting a 7-over 37 at Cantiague Park, said as the team became closer off the course, it bred results on it, contributing to the winning streak.
"You spend a lot of time with the girls," said Buff, who also finished second in the individual tournament, and added that this bred a "relaxed atmosphere," which helped the team deal with pressure. "Golf is a team sport as much as it is an individual sport."
"We all were very supportive of each other," said Kinalis. "We all became really good friends."
They became champions as well.