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Arizona women’s golf upsets UCLA, Stanford to advance to NCAA Championship final vs. Alabama

The Wildcats beat two Pac-12 powerhouses Tuesday, and will play for their third national title Wednesday

Photo via @ArizonaWGolf

Arizona women’s golf is heading to the NCAA national championship.

The Wildcats took down Pac-12 powers UCLA and Stanford on Tuesday, propelling them into Wednesday’s national championship final against top-ranked Alabama.

Arizona knocked off No. 1 seed UCLA in the quarterfinals early Tuesday morning before pulling away from No. 5 seed Stanford in the afternoon semi-finals session.

The national championship is being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, OK.

This will be Arizona’s first finals appearance since 2002 when the program finished runner-up. The Wildcats won the national title in 2000 and 1996.

Arizona barely made it into Tuesday’s Match Play quarterfinals against UCLA, squeaking out a two-hole playoff win over Baylor Monday night to earn the No. 8 seed.

Working on very little rest, Arizona came out strong as junior Gigi Stoll shocked UCLA’s Lilia Vu to win her match 2UP. Earlier Tuesday Vu was named the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year.

Junior Haley Moore earned Arizona its second point of the match by defeating the Bruins Clare Legaspi 3&1.

Freshman Yu-Sang Hou and sophomore Sandra Nordaas both lost their matches, putting the pressure on junior Bianca Pagdanganan for the second day in a row.

On Monday, Pagdanganan eagled the 18th hole to push Arizona into the playoff against Baylor.

Pagdanganan again found success on the 18th hole Tuesday, as she birdied to give Arizona the upset win.

After a brief intermission, Arizona was back on the course for its semi-final match against Stanford.

The Wildcats broke away from the Cardinal early on as Stoll, Moore, and Nordaas developed multi-stroke leads in the front nine.

Stoll was first to the clubhouse, winning her match 5&3.

Nordaas pulled the biggest upset of match play, running away from Stanford’s Olympian Albane Valenzuela 6&4. Valenzeula, a Swiss native, entered the tournament ranked 4th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Nordaas is ranked 1,010th.

Stoll and Nordaas put Arizona up two points to none with Moore riding a three-stroke lead into the last three holes of the course.

Moore’s opponent, Mika Liu, missed a birdie attempt on the 16th hole, giving Moore a chance to clinch the match with a par putt.

Moore converted to send Arizona to the national title match Wednesday afternoon against Alabama.

Golf Channel

The Crimson will enter as heavy favorites. Alabama was the top-ranked team for most of the season and has three players among the top-14 nationally.

Alabama cruised through its quarterfinal match against Kent State before disposing of USC in the semi-finals.

Many story lines will be in place as Arizona looks to capture its first team national championship since the baseball program won the College World Series in 2012.

UA head coach Laura Ianello was on the 2000 national championship team before competing on the LPGA Tour.

Ianello joined the head coaching ranks when then-Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne promoted her to the position in May of 2010.

Byrne, of course, left Arizona last year for the Alabama AD job.

The Wildcats can become the fourth straight Pac-12 school to win the women’s golf title since the tournament switched to a match play finals in 2015.

ASU, the all-time leader in team titles, won the most recent national championship in 2017.

Coverage of the national title match will begin at 1:00 p.m. PT on the Golf Channel.