MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Last year, Penn State Harrisburg's golf squad became the first team in school history to earn an automatic NCAA Division III tournament berth when it won the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship. This season, the Lions are heading back for more. The blue and white shot a combined two-day total of 650 at the NEAC championship tournament at the par-70 Pennsauken Country Club in Pennsauken, NJ on Saturday, Apr. 21 and Sunday, Apr. 22; good enough to win the league crown and earn an NCAA tourney bid for the second straight season.
The Lions were strong on day one and shot a team total of 315 that put them in first place at day's end, eight strokes ahead of conference rival and second place Rutgers-Camden. Day two brought with it some dreary, wet conditions but Penn State Harrisburg wouldn't be denied by the weather or the competition on this afternoon. The team shot a second day 335; a score matched only by Rutgers-Camden. The final round tie between the league foes meant that the blue and white held their eight shot advantage, successfully defended their conference crown and clinched only the school's second-ever NCAA berth.
Reigning NEAC Student-Athlete of the Week Matt Plummer (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley) was outstanding yet again, shooting a tournament-low 73 on day one to go along with his final round 77. His combined score of 150 earned him the NEAC's individual championship and the league's Player of the Year award. A freshman, Plummer also earned the conference's Rookie of the Year honors.
Plummer's fellow Cumberland Valley grad in Max Hrip (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley) had a strong outing as well. The senior's two-day total of 165 was good enough for a share of eighth place and earned him a NEAC second-team all-conference selection.
Freshman CJ Foust (Palmyra, PA/Palmyra) and sophomore Steve Foell (Pottstown, PA/Boyertown) were right behind their elder teammate, finishing with two-day scores of 167 and 168, respectively. Foust's total was good enough for 11th place while Foell earned a share of 12th. Both men earned NEAC all-conference third-team honors.
The final player of the five-man group, Steve's brother Ryan Foell (Pottstown, PA/Boyertown), was none too shabby and just missed finishing in the top 15. The sophomore's weekend total of 171 was good enough to give him a share of 18th place.
With his team winning its second-straight league title and four of his golfers earning all-conference honors, it was no surprise that Penn State Harrisburg's Head Coach Brad Kane was named NEAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season, as voted by his peers.
After capturing more hardware for the school's trophy case, the Lions now turn their attention to the NCAA tournament. The blue and white will head south next month with a year's postseason experience under their belts. The Division III championships will be held May 15-18 at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL near Orlando.