The landscape of girls golf is changing.

The way teams qualify for state has a new look, and the number of players coming out is down.

Desert Vista coach Pierson Hamilton is unsure what to make of either one, but he does know the season is fast approaching.

"Girls golf is a funny thing," he said. "You don't get consistent numbers (of people trying out) from year to year. The glory days are over for awhile, but we will make the most out of the few players we have.

"We are going to be playing before long so we need to send out our best."

The Thunder return most of the players from last season's squad that finished seventh in the state in Class 5A Division I.

There is no chance of repeating that simply because there is no longer a 5A Division I. Under the new set up by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, there are just two divisions for the entire state instead of four as in years past. It moves some of the better former 5A DII programs into the same state tournament as all of the former 5A DI teams.

"I haven't really looked at who is going where yet," Hamilton said. "I am just trying to make sure we have the state qualifying format under control."

Teams now qualify by meeting a scoring standard four times in the regular season. It takes the course rating of the home course divided by two and multiplied by four. It comes down to a team score of around 185, something Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe have done several times in years past.

The Thunder return four quality players who are tournament tested.

It starts with junior Kassidy Long-Goheen, who was the team's MVP last season and finished 17th at the state tournament last season.

"She is really dedicated to the game and spent all summer in Washington (state) playing junior golf," Hamilton said. "I can see her finishing in the top at state."

Other top players will be junior Cady Espinoza, who averaged 43 per nine holes last season, senior Annie Willert and junior Maggie Black.

"I think our top players will do well all season, but if we lose any of them we don't have a lot of depth," Hamilton said. "I think we will make the state tournament and from there it is just a wait and see as to what teams get hot at the right time."

Mountain Pointe was sixth in the state last season and returns a trio of players for second-year coach Carol Wallace.

Junior Darian Spivey finished 14th a year ago at state and junior Sami Spring was 31st. Seniors Jordyn Trappe, who was 46th at state, and Cecila Feely should be among the top players for the Pride as well.

"Our top four are going to be really solid, but the fifth spot is going to be up for grabs," Wallace said. "That's kind of what everyone is vying for right now."

He said that Spivey had a good offseason and should step into the No. 1 spot comfortably.

"She really worked on her game," Wallace said. "She had a few top-three finishes over the summer and it should give her confidence."

The roster is rounded out by first-year senior Aleks Cataruzolo, sophomore Ashley Franchetto and three freshmen.

"We have a chance to be a pretty good team," Wallace said. "As long as the players improve from last season and we get a few good rounds from some of the other players."

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