Franklin Regional clinches girls golf playoff berth
With a week left in the season, Franklin Regional's girls golf team already has reached its destination.
The Panthers defeated Norwin, 185-206, on Monday at Murrysville Golf Course, and with the Section 3-AAA win, Franklin Regional secured its first playoff berth in girls golf since 2006.
Alex Schwab led all players with a nine-hole 39 for FR, while Breanna Molinaro had a 44, Jordan Woyt shot a 49 and Nicole Lockwood had a 53.
The win moved the Panthers' section record to 10-2, with both losses coming to undefeated Penn-Trafford. Because Franklin Regional has ensured at least a season split with third-place Fox Chapel — FR faces the 8-4 Foxes next week — even two losses to end the year wouldn't keep the Panthers out of the postseason.
“I'm very impressed with the way they've played,” Franklin Regional coach Kane Daignault said.
“Coming into the season, I didn't know what to expect. Fox Chapel and Shady Side Academy are always really, really good. Our girls have really stepped up and improved greatly.”
Schwab and Molinaro have been a part of the program for four years, both as three-year starters with some varsity experience as freshmen.
Their steady play atop the FR lineup has been a big reason the team will be teeing off in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinal round on Oct. 8.
“They've been playing quite a bit for me, and this year, they've taken that next step and really improved,” Daignault said.
The last time Franklin Regional reached the girls golf playoffs, the WPIAL had only one classification for girls golf, and the Panthers qualified as the second-place team behind Mt. Pleasant.
Daignault's hope is that the success for this year's group will make it a shorter wait for the next appearance by the team.
“Winning programs attract interst, and hopefully we do get new players because kids and parents see what we're doing at school or in the paper,” he said.
“To anybody's memory (with the team now), the team hasn't been in the playoffs. You go into the gym and you don't see any banners for girls golf, so it's a big step for the program.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org