STILLWATER, Okla. -- In a match that required a 19th hole for the final paring, the Alabama women's golf team fell, 3-2, in a hard-fought championship match to the Arizona Wildcats at the 2018 NCAA Women's Golf Championships in Stillwater, Okla.
With the team score tied 2-2, senior Lakareber Abe just missed an eagle on the par-5 18th before tapping in for birdie to even her match and force a playoff with Arizona's No. 1 player, Haley Moore. The duo returned to the 18th tee to open the playoff and Moore converted a birdie putt of her own to clinch the match for the Wildcats.
"It was an awesome year," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "When you get into the final eight, you just never know. We were pretty dominant yesterday, but Arizona made that eagle in stroke play to force a playoff on Monday, then they won that playoff and they just rode that momentum all the way to the championship. They're a very good team and they just kept getting better throughout the tournament."
Alabama was again led by junior Cheyenne Knight and sophomore Kristen Gillman who closed out respective 4-and-2 and 4-and-3 decisions to put the Tide in a 2-2 deadlock with Arizona. Knight was 1-down at the turn before rallying to win four of the next five holes to clinch her match with Bianca Pagdanganan. Gillman led her match from the start before closing out Gigi Stoll with a par on 15.
Arizona evened the score with a 4-and-3 win by You-Sang Hou over the Tide's Lauren Stephenson and a 1-up decision by Sandra Nordaas over freshman Angelica Moresco to set the stage for the final match.
The match play championship appearance at the par-72, 6,328-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club was the first for Alabama since the NCAA adopted the format in 2015. The Crimson Tide was seeking its second national championship under Potter after capturing the school's first women's golf title in 2012. Alabama remains one of only three Southeastern Conference schools to have won an NCAA women's golf championship.