In a very closely contested and thrilling round of golf between conference rivals, the Cal State Stanislaus Warriors came up just short in a 3-1-1 match play decision to Chico State in the semifinal round of the NCAA Championship.
Chico State's Kyle Souza, the 2011 individual national champion, held off a surging Rob Damschen in the final holes to hang on for the Wildcats. Just moments earlier, Stanislaus freshman Paul Smith bogeyed on No. 18 to lose his one-shot advantage to Bobby Bucey in another tight battle.
"It was so very close and a tough battle (this afternoon)," CSUS head coach John Cook said. "Wow, what a tremendous round of great golf by both teams. Our guys did great, they had an excellent season and this is a great finish for our program."
The Warriors will take home a semifinalist trophy and posted the program's best overall finish at the National Championship tournament since the 2003 team ended up third in Sunriver, Ore.
Cal State Stanislaus wraps up its best season as a Division II program, winning a school record seven events, including a regional championship.
Trevor Blair became the team's first first team All-American since 2008 (Erick Justesen) while all five regular starters all earned All-CCAA honors. Smith was also named CCAA's freshman of the year. Additionally All-Region and All-American honors will be handed out by the Golf Coaches Association of America during the off-season.
Blair led his match against Eric Frazzetta all afternoon and ended up beating the Wildcat by six strokes with a two-under round for the Stanislaus point.
Damschen had trailed Souza by three strokes after 11 holes, but stay on pace with par scores until the 15th. With Souza taking a bogey on No. 16, Damschen birdied the hole to cut the deficit to one. Both players took a four on the par-6 17th and par the final hole for the final score with Souza at -5, Damschen -4.
Smith recovered from a double-bogey on No. 5 with birdies on 8, 11 and 17 to take a one-shot lead before shooting a five on the par-4 18th.
Teddy Schrier and Chris Doyle battled closely as well but a double on No. 3 and three bogeys in the back nine gave Schrier a +5, two strokes down of Doyle. Chris McCracken also had a tough time on the back with a +5 on his way in. He took a seven on the par-4 14th.
How close was the head-to-head match? Had Damschen or Schrier able to rally back for another Stanislaus point, the teams would have ended up even at 2-2-1. The total combined team score would have still been even, which would have forced a five-man sudden death playoff.
Chico State advances to the championship match today against Nova Southeastern. The Wildcats could become the second consecutive CCAA team, in as many years, to win the National Championship under the match play format.