Stevenson sophomore Emily Duan waited for the right time to go under par for the first time this season.
Duan shot a 2-under 68 at the Class 2A Prospect Sectional at Mount Prospect Golf Club, leading the Patriots to their first sectional title and a team-record score of 298 for an 18-hole round.
Duan birdied three straight holes, Nos. 14, 15 and 16, to finish with a flourish — one shot behind her friend Caroline Smith, a Barrington senior who earned medalist honors.
“It feels great,” Duan said. “Last year (at sectionals) I started with a double on the first hole. This year was definitely an improvement when I parred it. It gives me a lot of confidence going into state.”
The Patriots appreciated Duan’s round. Barrington finished second with a 310.
“She’s always been our top kid with the potential to go low,” Stevenson coach Emma Degen said. “She’s never shot in the 60s in a high school tournament before. It was needed.”
Freshman Allie Santos shot a 74 for Stevenson. Joyce Bai and Sophia Zhuang each shot a 78.
The Patriots shot the lowest score in the state Monday, confirming the hype that’s surrounded the team this season. Degen has done her best to keep the noise around the girls to a minimum.
“We talked about that all year,” Degen said. “There are expectations on us. We had our team meeting at the beginning of the year, and we said that those expectations don’t matter. We’re going to worry about right now. I tried to downplay a lot of that stuff. I knew people were talking.”
Barrington’s ‘big goal’ achieved: Smith shot a smooth round, carding three birdies on the par-70 course with no bogeys, to lead Barrington back to state.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve had a really low round,” Smith said. “I felt that sectionals were the perfect day to do it, and I got it done. I’m glad I was able to pull that off.”
So was Barrington coach Tim Martin, who was impressed with Smith’s effort.
“What can you say about her,” Martin said. “It was a spectacular round of golf. She’s so good at every facet of the game. She has no weaknesses. Being a senior in her last sectional, being able to go out and win it with a 67 is a special memory for all of us.”
The Broncos are coming off three straight second-place finishes at the state finals, which could come down to Barrington and Stevenson at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur this weekend.
“Our one big goal was to get back to state,” Martin said. “We have a lot of great memories on that course. We’ve played a lot of great golf on that course. To be going back, we’re thrilled.”
Schulman, Hogan advance: Vernon Hills freshman Lexi Schulman shot a 72, third-best in the field and the top individual qualifying score. Lake Zurich’s Bryana Hogan shot a 77 and also advanced.
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.