One swing, one putt. With that, Chloe Sipe changed the fortunes of the Elk Lake girls golf team.
After a disappointing front nine on wind-blown Fox Hill Country Club, the Lady Warriors found themselves two shots behind Loyalsock in Thursday’s Class 2A subregional.
As Sipe marched toward the 13th tee, she gave herself a much-needed pep talk.
“This is ridiculous,” Sipe said. “I’m playing stupid, I’m playing lazy. I need to go take advantage of that short par-4.”
The junior responded with her best drive of the day, ripping a shot onto the right side of the green on the 223-yard hole, which plays as a par-4 for women. Then she jarred the 15-foot eagle putt while her teammates went wild as they watched from the 12th green and 13th tee. Both Loyalsock players made double-bogey on the hole and the dramatic swing revved Elk Lake up for the final six holes as it advanced to the PIAA team championships for a third straight season with a 268-281 victory in the three-best-scores format.
“You either go and do the best you possibly can or you just give them the win, and we did not want to hand it over today, let me tell you,” Sipe said. “I can’t let them down by shooting bogeys all on the back. I need to come in here and show them what I can do.
“You need to count every shot as if it’s worth more than anything. It’s crucial.”
It energized seniors Peyton LaRue and Taegan Mills, who were immediately behind Sipe’s playing group.
“We were all clapping. It was really exciting,” said LaRue, who carded a career-best 94. “That was a really great adrenaline booster. We knew we were losing by two at that point. So when we saw her make that, we knew we were at least even.
“Just mentally, that was like an extra push. We can do this. It’s possible. We’re doing it. That was a good moment.”
Not one that was totally unexpected.
“The other group saw what was going on, too, and it was a big boost for us,” Elk Lake coach Ryan Kipar said. “It put the pressure on them. For her, it just takes a shot or two to get her right on track.”
Sipe followed by running in a 35-footer for birdie on the par-5 14th, helping her to a medalist score of 9-over 82, expanding her lead by six strokes over the final nine.
With Sipe back in the driver’s seat, the match fell into the hands of the second and third players.
“We knew it was going to come down to me and Taegan,” LaRue said.
She was even-par through five holes before quadruple-bogeys on No. 6 sidetracked both her and Mills.
“I tried to keep my focus, keep my composure and in the end it really worked out for me,” LaRue said.
Mills had her share of putting troubles but reined those in starting on No. 12 and finished with a back nine of 43 and a 92 overall, Elk Lake’s second-best score.
Class 2A Subregional
At Fox Hill C.C., par 73
Count top three
Elk Lake (268): Chloe Sipe 82, Tagean Mills 92, Peyton LaRue 94, Reese Warringer 98, Jenna Daye 118
Loyalsock (281): Grace Shaible 91, Cassie Gee 95, Allyia Kennedy 95, Mia Patterson 97