Another strong cast of girls golfers will be on display over the next two weeks in North Coast Section competition.
Top individual contenders Sabby Virtusio of Carondelet and Megan Conder of Heritage have already punched their tickets to the NCS Tournament of Champions on Oct. 28 at Peacock Gap and Country Club in San Rafael by virtue of their teams' winning league championships.
Amador Valley star Kimberly Liu and the Dons still must qualify for the Tournament of Champions at the NCS Division I Qualifier on Monday at Diablo Creek Golf Course in Concord.
In perhaps a foreshadowing of NCS, Liu, Conder and Schultz went 1-2-3 at the recent Post-Season Preview Classic. Liu has committed to USF, Conder to Oregon and Schultz to San Jose State. Virtusio upset Liu at the EBAL tournament, prevailing by two shots with a 1-over 73 at Las Positas Golf Course. Monte Vista standout Hailey White was second and Liu third.
Schultz, who finished behind Dougherty Valley's Belinda Hu in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League tourney, had a memorable summer, playing in the U.S. Women's Open after qualifying as an amateur. Acalanes coach Tim Scott, in his 27th year of coaching, says the long-hitting Schultz is one of the best putters he's seen.
"It's fun to watch, and when she misses she doesn't miss by much," Scott said of Schultz. "She's just an insanely hard worker. Her swing is better this year than it's ever been."
In the NCS team race, Carondelet, Monte Vista, Amador Valley, Mission San Jose, Dougherty Valley and Alameda all loom as contenders.
Alameda impressed as five broke 80 at the West Alameda County Conference tourney at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex -- Melissa Yao 72, Elizabeth Wong 75, Andrea Leung 76, Corine Tan 77 and Kenness Cheung 78.
Monte Vista got a boost with the recent the return of No. 2 Angela Zhang after an extended absence.
Heritage, which won the Bay Valley Athletic League title for the first time, is on the rise. Backing Conder are No. 2 Kelly Hunt and No. 3 Jeilysse Bondoc, the team's most improved player.
The NorCal tournament will be Nov. 4 in Ripon. The state tourney is Nov. 20 at Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel Valley.
From 2006 to 2011, Miramonte had one of the top programs in the East Bay.
A perennial playoff team and NCS title contender, the team went 139-44 over that span.
Then came 2012 when the team went just 5-20 and found itself out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
"Last year was a rebuilding year," Miramonte coach Dave Masdeo said. "We lost a lot of key players. We had only five returners, only two seniors and had two freshmen."
What a difference a year can make.
The Matadors needed just 11 matches to match their win total from 2012 and entered this week with a 3-2 record in the DFAL, just 1.5 games out of first place.
"We have a good group of returning players this year," Masdeo said. "Our experience level is much better than it was last year."
-- Matt Smith, correspondent