OAKDALE -- Jillian Goulart knows what her role is on East Union High's golf team, and she's more than happy to fulfill it even when it means putting aside personal glory.
"At this point, golf is a team game and my job is to beat the girls in my group," EU's No. 2 player said. "If each of us can do that, we're going to win."
It's a philosophy that ranks EU's golf program among the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and it paid off Monday with a fourth consecutive Division 4 team championship.
"As a No. 2, I don't worry about what the 1's are doing," Goulart said. "I play a little safer because I've got to make sure I help build up a lead,"
Goulart did her part, firing a 92 to rout Whitney's No. 2 by 18 strokes at Oakdale Golf & Country Club. EU No. 3 Frances Telles was close behind, firing a 96 to beat Whitney's No. 3 by 12 strokes.
The 30 strokes the Lancers earned from those two spots were crucial to the outcome.
EU No. 1 Jackie Ketner shot a 9-over 81 to finish third, behind Center's Sagee Palavivatana (87) and Whitney's Samantha Stockton (80), and all eyes shifted to the highly anticipated EU-Whitney battle.
Most observers felt Ketner and Stockton would be within a few strokes of each other, leaving it up to their teammates to decide the team title.
Whitney was up by three after the first group finished the 18-hole, 5,137-yard course, but it was a short-lived lead.
"I was in the foursome with Whitney's No. 2, so I was able to track her and I could see I was pulling ahead," Goulart said. "I just kept making safe shots, remembering that my role was to pick up strokes.
"As a No. 2, I can't have any blowup holes. If I'm playing a hole poorly, I've got to minimize the damage and then focus on the very next hole."
The individual title was decided by the first foursome of Ketner, Palavivatana, Stockton and El Dorado's McKenzie Weinhold (87) -- who posted the day's four low scores.
Ketner's bid for an individual title was hurt by a bad day on the greens. She often three-putted after positioning herself for a two-putt finish.
"I missed lots of short putts and struggled with the severe breaks," said Kenter, MVP of the Valley Oak League. "We play a lot at Manteca (during league) and its green are flat compared to the ones today."
Ketner trimmed four or five strokes off her score with exceptional play from the sand, driving through the ball in order to get it over the lip and onto the green near the hole.
Sierra coach Greg Wilson supervised the first group and said Ketner "showed a lot of confidence in the sand. She struck the ball and followed through on her swing, getting lift on the ball, instead of stopping her swing when she made contact with the ball."
Ketner's strong play in the sand only magnified her putting problems: "I would get a good chip from the sand, then I'd three-putt on the green."
The win sends EU to Monday's Masters Tournament at The Reserve in Stockton, where it will face top teams from the five other divisions.
That, said Goulart, is going to surprise a lot of people. EU graduated its top two from a year ago: Krysta Clark (Fresno State) and Lindsay Shoot (Monterey Bay) each earned college golf scholarships. "It shows that we've got a strong program if we can lose those two girls and win another team title," Goulart said.
Richard T. Estrada can be reached at (209) 578-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.