LOST PINES, Texas -- With the West Coast Conference championships only a week away, the Saint Mary's golf team appears to be peaking at just the right time.
The Gaels mounted a late charge that included a few critical putts to post a 6-under par 858 to claim the team championship at the 2015 Jim West Intercollegiate at Wolfdancer Country Club.
The victory was the first of the season for the Gaels, which played three freshmen in its 5-man lineup for the second time this year. It also marked the sixth team title for the program in the last four seasons and the 17th during head coach Scott Hardy's tenure.
Buoyed by a combined 5-under par in today's final round by freshmen Perry Cohen and Pavan Sagoo, Saint Mary's claimed a 1-stroke victory over 35th ranked Sam Houston State and distanced third place Stephen F. Austin State by nine total strokes.
"This victory was truly the epitome of a team effort," said Hardy. "Everyone contributed and we needed scored from all five guys over the three rounds. I haven't seen many teams win tournaments with three freshmen in the lineup. We traveled across the country to an unfamiliar region to play teams that are accustomed to the conditions and the course, so I have to give our team a lot of credit.
"Sam Houston State has a good team that has a good chance of making noise in the post season. So, for us to battle and come out on top showed a lot of character from our young team. I'm very proud of my team today."
Sagoo, a native of London, England, was the Gaels' top finisher with a 54-hole total of 4-under par 212 with rounds of 70-72-70. He finished sixth in the 80-golfer field, just one stroke behind Florida Gulf Coast junior Jake Sherwin and Louisiana Monroe senior Mason Seaborn.
Stephen F. Austin's Blake Pugh earned medalist honors with rounds of 70-68-69 for a 9-under par 207.
SMC junior Jonathan De Los Reyes carded rounds of 78-67-73 for a 2-over par 218 and finished in a tie for 13th place overall. Freshman Connor Blick, playing in his second competitive spring tournament, tied for 22nd with rounds of 71-71-78 for a 4-over par 220.
Senior Tye Gabriel finished tied for 29th at 5-over par with scores of 73-71-77. Cohen came up big in today's final round with a 3-under par 69 after struggling to scores of 74-80 in yesterday's first two rounds. The San Diego native clinched the team victory with a par on his final hole.
Saint Mary's look to return back to the top of the team leaderboard this weekend when it travels to Saticoy Country Club in Somis, Calif. for the WCC Championships. The nine league teams play a practice round on Sunday, then compete in the 54-hole championship event with a single round each day Monday through Wednesday. The Gaels have won two of the last three team titles.