Last season was a banner year for the Lenape girls golf team, which is still, like most female golf teams in South Jersey, in the early stages of its program’s history following its 2017 inception and creation of a two-year pilot program that jump-started girl-specific teams in the district.
Despite the team’s youth, the Indians didn’t shy away from success last year. Led by then-freshman Angelina Tolentino, Lenape qualified for the state championship meet for the first time in program history following a third-place finish in the South Jersey section.
Lenape also won the inaugural Burlington County Open in 2021, which the Indians just so happened to do again in 2022, scoring a 390 at Little Mill Country Club in Evesham Township. That bested the second-place team in Moorestown, which scored a 430 on the day between the five-team field.
Following an undefeated season last year in which Lenape set its now program record for wins in a single season, the Indians have dropped two matches through their first 11 thus far. But this year’s squad, coach Andre Lopez said, has shown the potential to be even better than last year.
“They all knew how good we were last year with the undefeated season and all the tournament wins, but we only graduated two seniors last year, so we knew we had the chance to be really good this year, if not better than last year,” Lopez said.
Tolentino repeated as the individual Burlington County Open champion this year after shooting a 79 to defeat the rest of the field. Lopez said he’s seen a more composed and calm Tolentino in her sophomore season.
“I’ve seen a definite improvement in terms of her maturity and how she approaches the game,” he added. “She had a very veteran look at the game last year at only 14 years old, but now after a year of high-school play under her belt, she goes out there with a different sense of confidence and purpose and gets the job done.
“She’s super competitive and it kind of bleeds into our team.”
Rounding out the top five for Lenape at the Burlington County Open were Emily Farbaniec (100, fifth place), Ryann Foley (103, eighth), Kathryn Skidmore (108, 13th) and Jordan Broiles (110, 15th).
After last year’s success, Tolentino said she entered this year’s Burlington County Open more relaxed than last year, with the tournament win a big confidence boost to the team as sectionals near.
“I was definitely a lot more calm this year after having played in it last year, so I was definitely more calm,” she said. “It was so exciting to be able to defend our title after a few losses earlier in the year. It’s a big stepping stone for our team and shows that we’re ready for what’s to come in the future.”
While Tolentino consistently places at the top of the pack for Lenape, Lopez said a great strength in the team is their immense depth from the next nine or so girls on the roster.
“Our depth is an absolute strength,” he said. “Our two through five golfers are pretty interchangeable to be honest. Any of those four can take their turn at shooting the lower number on any given day. Then our six through 10 are also really close …
“We have a depth that is interchangeable with only two seniors,” Lopez added, “so they’ve got even more time in the future to show what they can do, too.”
Farbaniec has competed at the Burlington County Open in the past two years, placing in the top five as an individual both times. Coming into her senior year, she said she focused primarily on her short game – chipping and putting – for the final season with Lenape. Looking back from freshman year, Farbaniec feels that she and the program have improved greatly since she joined the team.
“We’ve really come a long way since my freshman year, both as a team and as individuals in our golf games, in all aspects,” she said. “To be able to win the Burlington County Open two years in a row like this, I feel, shows that we’re stronger as golfers.
“It’s just impressive to me to see that we were still able to do it again this year.”