Since he took over as Mira Costa girls’ golf head coach Thomas Cox knew nothing but being a league champion.
The team won league his first year and followed up with five more after that. This year felt different, he said.
Keeping the streak alive was in possible jeopardy, he thought, so seven league titles in a row was not a cinch.
“I’m so proud of this team for the way they’ve grown and improved throughout the season,” Cox said. “We weren’t the favorites coming into this season and knew each match was going to be close so I purposely scheduled difficult non-league matches to prepare for League play and the girls embraced the challenge.”
The Mustangs cinched its seventh consecutive league title on Oct. 17 with a 208-215 victory over Peninsula on its home course at Chester Washington Golf Course.
The team had a 5-1 record in the Bay League and another first-place finish.
“As a team co-captain, it was important for me to keep the winning Mira Costa tradition going,” said Mira Costa senior Gabi Kiger. “We have had so many great golfers and teams at Mira Costa over the years. I knew that if we set our goals high we could accomplish another Bay League championship and continue the streak.”
Kiger, Sarah Matsuoka, junior; and Kate Stargardter, junior, all shot 40’s to lead the team to victory. Shani Waite, senior co-captain shot a 42.
“I am really proud of our team this year,” said Waite, a three-year captain. “The culture was always positive, the girls were always eager to play, and no matter if we shot good or bad, we always worked hard to come back.”
She added, “We won Bay League again for the seventh year in a row. We are all extremely proud of ourselves and each other. We were calm out there on the course and handled our business with pride. I am sad to go this year, but my team will always be family.”
Cox was impressed with his team.
“I wanted this one so bad for this team, because of how hard they work and how much they wanted it,” said the coach. “The way they responded after our loss to West Torrance at Alondra (Golf Course) was incredible. They were determined to bounce back the next match at our home course and did so in a big way with a team score of 190 (10 over par) with each girl breaking 40. We even dropped a 39.”
Six Mustangs shot under 40. Juliae Shoda, junior, and Waite had 37’s, Kiger finished with a 38 and Hannah Gedion, who is a sophomore, along with Matsuoka and Stargardter all shot 39’s on Chester Washington’s par 36 course.
That was the beginning of something and they continued that from that point forward.
“That was the breakthrough we needed and we carried that momentum through the rest of the season,” Cox said.
“It is amazing and very exciting that we won Bay League this year,” Shoda said. “Going into the season we knew achieving this would be challenging, and I think everyone stepped up to the plate and contributed to our team’s success. We improved considerably throughout the season due to all the hard work that was put in by the girls and I am very thrilled about what the future holds for us.”
Mira Costa has a 9-6 record overall.
The team defeated Peninsula two days before at their course at Rolling Hills Country Club 206-218 setting the stage for another Bay League title if they could win at Chester Washington.
Kiger shot a 39 to lead the team and Shoda, Waite recorded 40’s.
“Winning Bay League has been one of my most memorable moments while at Mira Costa so far,” Matsuoka said. “We all worked so hard to achieve our goal and were able to improve throughout our season.”
Kiger led the team in lowest average score in league play followed by Waite. Shoda was next followed by Stargardter and Matsuoka.
In addition to the players mentioned already, there is a freshman on the team, Lucy Langlois.
Cox talked about what made this team different.
“This may be the most cohesive team I’ve had. My co-captains, Shani and Gabi, provide leadership and set the tone but each girl contributes, encourages and pushes one another. I feel we’ve really embraced the philosophy that each girl just needs to stay within themselves and do their part.”
He added, “The trust is there that the low score we need is going to come and it doesn’t always have to come from the same person every time. I really believe that each girl has had their moment this season.”
West Torrance was the only team to beat Mira Costa and did that on their home course winning 206-210.
Kiger shot the lowest score in league matches for Mira Costa when she shot a 35 in a 199-220 win over South Torrance on October 3 at Chester Washington.
Mira Costa finished ahead of Peninsula, South Torrance and West Torrance in the Bay League.
“This may be our seventh straight league championship but this one really stands out as an accomplishment for our program and these outstanding girls,” Cox said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Next up for the team was the Bay League Finals at Los Amigos Golf Course that was held yesterday. The top eight girls from Bay League advance into CIF Individuals tournament at Soule Park in Ojai on Monday, Oct. 28.
Mira Costa hopes as many as four can advance.
After that, the CIF Team Southern Division championship will be held on Monday, Nov. 4 at Costa Mesa Country Club.
“This team just continues to get better, and I know will be prepared to compete in our post season tournaments,” Cox said.
“Now it's time to expand our goals and finish the season off strong,” said Kiger said, who realizes her high school career is coming to an end. “I am excited to play in Bay League Finals and I really like Los Amigos Golf Course.”