PALM DESERT, Calif. - Sophomore Marissa Borja lit up the Classic Club this weekend at the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate in Palm Desert, compiling the second-lowest three-round score of the tournament, firing a career-low 69 in the second round and placing third overall to lead the Eastern Washington women's golf team in their final tournament of the fall season.
"I'm so proud of Marissa," head coach Brenda Howe said after the tournament. "For the second time this season, she positioned herself to possibly win a tournament and showed maturity that is great to see in a sophomore."
Borja's sub-70 round was tied for the lowest 18-hole score of the tournament and was one of just three other rounds in the 60s from the field of over 100. The Spring Valley, Calif. native also led all Big Sky Conference competitors in the tournament as her rounds of 76, 69 and 73 were good enough for sole possession of third place behind co-medalists Taylor Yoshitake of Cal Poly and Clariss Guce of CSU-Northridge.
With Borja's first ever collegiate round in the 60s, the most important thing for her to do Sunday was to follow it with another solid round. She did just that on her final 18, coming in at a one-over-par 73.
"She had a couple of hiccups siting at 2-under today, and had a stretch of three holes that put her two over," Howe said. "But with four holes left, she managed to play them well and finish one over for the round."
Borja's blistering play gives her a respectable scoring average of 75.7 heading into the winter break. Her three rounds this weekend in the desert were all lower than her average going into the tournament (76.9).
Eastern's team placed 15th in the 20-team field, and was able to come out ahead of all but one conference foe competing in the tournament. Of the seven Big Sky teams entered in the field, only Southern Utah (13th) was able to finish ahead of the Eagles. EWU also improved on their finish from last year, moving up four spots from a 19th place finish in 2012.
"As a team, I'm excited with our finish amongst Big Sky schools," Howe noted. "But even though we were strong against those schools, I felt as though each round we only fielded a two-man squad. Once we get everyone to their potential in the same round I think we'll be able to compete with anyone."
Coming in tied for second on the team were Hannah Kim and Sara Callagy, both of whom fired three-round totals of 244. Each player registered one round in the 70s and two in the 80s, with Kim posting rounds of 79, 82 and 83 and Callagy coming in with 88, 76 and 80.
Maddie Dodge finished fourth on the team with a pair of 81s on Saturday followed by an 88 to close out the tournament. Taylor Crandall (255) rounded out the top five, but showed resilience with a final-round score of 78 after struggling through her second round with a 94 on Saturday.
With the end of this weekend's tournament, the Eagles will enjoy an almost six-month break from competition through the winter months. The quest for a Big Sky title is scheduled to pick back up March 1 and 2 with the annual Red Rocks Invitational in Sedona, Ariz.