PHILADELPHIA - During the 2005-06 season, Penn women’s golf coach Francis Vaughn would tell anyone who was willing to listen that he expected 2006-07 to be the start of something big.
The reason? The incoming freshmen.
Vaughn was not lying.
Three freshmen carried the Quakers through most of the 2006-07 campaign. Lisette Vitter led the way, playing all 15 rounds on the year with a team-low 78.4 stroke average. Classmate Meredith Kotowski joined her in every tournament and had a stroke average of 80.4. Vitter and Kotowski went 1-2 in Penn’s lineup in every tournament this year. The third freshman, Catherine Elliott, was also a regular in Penn’s starting five and had a stroke average of 87.3.
Throw in former All-Ivy golfer Meg Bender -- a junior who missed the fall while studying abroad -- and the ingredients were put in place for a team that expects to compete for the Ivy Championships in the coming years.
Penn began the 2006-07 season at the Princeton Invitational, finishing sixth out of 13 teams as Vitter placed fifth individually. One week later, the Quakers took eighth place at the Yale Fall Intercollegiate, as Kotowski tied for 17th overall to finish as the low Penn player.
The fall season took a slight hit a week later, when the ECAC Championships were cancelled in Williamsburg, Va. due to inclement weather. The campaign ended October 14 at the Rutgers Invite, where Vitter and Kotowski both tied for sixth overall and the Quakers took fifth place out of 15 teams.
The spring season saw Bender return to the fold, and her impact was immediate as she tied Kotowski for second among Penn players at the Springlake Invitational in Sebring, Fla. Of course, the big news at that tournament was Vitter, who carded 71-73--144 and finished just one shot behind tournament champion P. Phol-uayporn. Two weeks later, Vitter was again the low Quaker (t-19th overall) at the William & Mary Invitational.
The month of April was Kotowski’s chance to shine, as the freshman placed second overall at the Hoya Invitational hosted by Georgetown. Kotowski’s 77-74--151 was just one shot off the pace set by tourney champion Susannah Aboff of Princeton. As a team, Penn finished sixth out of 13 squads.
The season-ending Ivy League Championships were next, and Penn placed fifth overall as Vitter (t-13th) and Kotowski (t-21st) led the way followed closely by Bender (24th).