RIO VERDE, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University golf team wrapped up action from day one of the Rio Verde Invitational today, turning in a team score of 18-over-par 306. The Lumberjacks will head into round two tomorrow in fourth place and six strokes off second place Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan. Missouri-Kansas City is leading the field at 7-over 295.
"We have a chance to do really good things here," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "However, that comes with executing more shots and starting to perform better. Our golfers' attitudes are great and where they need to be, but we need to stop making silly mistakes. There are some things to correct, no doubt, but we have a fresh opportunity tomorrow to do just that."
Clearly, as today's round showed, NAU's Sofia Anokhina has not skipped a beat since winning her first collegiate tournament last time out, going for a 2-under 70 Friday afternoon. Her only slip-up was on No. 12—where she double-bogeyed—but tapped in four birdies to cancel it out.
Currently, Anokhina sits in a tie for second and a single stroke behind the leader.
"She played lights out," said Bedortha. "She's really in control of what she's doing right now, and how she's handling herself makes it even more fun to watch. Very composed and mature out there…it's exciting."
Matching Anokhina every step of the way was junior teammate Sierra Bezdicek. Bezdicek, playing this tournament as an individual, also recorded a 2-under 70 on Friday with five birdies. The native of Colbert, Wash., opened and closed her round with all-important par putts.
"I'm very proud of [Bezdicek]," said Bedortha. "If she continues to play the way she did today, she's going to work herself into that scoring lineup. She fought hard out there and it showed."
Other registered scorers for the Lumberjacks today outside of Anokhina included senior Kim Cifuentes (6-over 78), juniors Kaitlyn Saum (9-over 81) and Carly Akine (7-over 79) and freshman Emma Reyes (7-over 79).
"The thing is, our golfers did not play badly for most of their rounds today," said Bedortha. "We just struggled closing out the last three or four holes. We have to carry a better mentality into ending our days on the golf course and if we're able to do that, then we're going to be really successful."
The Lumberjacks will continue with round two from Rio Verde with a shotgun start of 10 a.m. MT tomorrow.