Since day one, Lenape girls golf head coach Andre Lopez has said Angelina Tolentino’s impact has been profound.
Despite having just finished her sophomore season, Tolentino has played like one of the best girls golfers in the state. In just the team’s fifth year of existence — with Lopez at the helm since the beginning — the young golfer has been the leading factor in securing numerous tournament and invitational titles, including back-to-back Burlington County Open titles and Olympic Conference Championships the past two years.
But perhaps most important for a sport still growing across the state while getting its footing in South Jersey, Tolentino’s role has meant more than individual placing and team wins.
It’s meant putting South Jersey girls golf on the map.
“It’s been really exciting to get to be a part of, not just for me as a coach or for her teammates that play with her every day, but for South Jersey girls golf as a whole,” Lopez said. “We’re behind the times when you look at how Central and North Jersey have been playing in recent years, so getting to have our own conference started with 12 teams and compete like that while having an athlete like Angelina succeed like she has … It’s something special.”
For that, Tolentino is South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021-’22 Girls Golfer of the Year.
The sophomore’s individual season accomplishments are many: Tolentino defended her own individual tournament wins at five invitationals and tournaments this year, including the Lady Bombers Tee Off Classic and the Red Devil Invitational, all while also finishing as the team’s low scorer in every dual match during the regular season.
After a sensational freshman year, Lopez said Tolentino came into this season set on continuing to help Lenape girls golf however possible.
“She’s got her eyes on the big picture,” the coach said. “We talked at the beginning of the season about her individual and team goals, and it wasn’t much about her. She wants to help the sport and the team.”
After focusing mostly on getting comfortable at the high-school level last year, Tolentino said she came into the spring season more focused on the team’s goals than her own.
“I wanted to be more of a team player this year than I felt like I was last year,” she added. “Having golfed most of my life before [getting to Lenape], it was always mostly an individual kind of thing, so I very rarely thought of that. So this year I made sure to be there for my teammates and help out more and what not.”
Despite being a younger golfer playing in the biggest situations, Tolentino said she very seldom felt the pressure one might assume comes with those situations. Instead, she stays focused on taking it one stroke at a time.
“I don’t really feel pressure in matches to be honest,” Tolentino said. “I just make sure to always give it my all and play to the best of my ability when I’m out there … Seeing what our team has done and become over the past two years, it feels like a big turning stone in South Jersey golf, and I’m happy that we’re making a mark compared to other sections in New Jersey.”