University’s Nodoka Honda – Orange County Register

University girls golf coach Kevin Kasper called a team meeting on a tiny practice green high in the hills above Strawberry Farms Golf Course.

It was time for the traditional preseason pep talk, filled with words such as potential, goals and championship dreams. Only this time, it felt as if he was doing more than rattling off a bunch of cliches.

This team had players filled with promise. Nodoka Honda was among those.

She has a tireless work ethic, Kasper said, and she often headed to the driving range after a match to work on what went wrong while playing for the Trojans.

And this season, Kasper said, Honda became one of those rare cases in sports when her ability and her performance “began to meet.” She posted four scores in the 70s and one in the 60s in five postseason matches to help University make school history by winning the CIF State title.

For her achievements this season, Nodoka has been the selected as the Register’s girls golfer of the year.

“In any given match or tournament, she was always capable of being our low scorer,” Kasper said. “She was always the consistent one for us, and that is a huge asset for the team.”

Despite carding a double-bogey on the back nine, Honda posted a 3-under-par 69, equaling the low round of the day at Mile Square Golf Course, to help the Trojans open the postseason with a triumph in the CIF-SS Southern Team Regional.

She ended the postseason with a 3-over-par 74 at Poppy Hills Golf Course to play a key role in lifting the Trojans to the CIF State Championship, a first for the school’s girls golf team.

In between, she fired a 77 at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside and added the 76 at the CIF-SS Southern Individual Regional and the 73 she posted at the CIF-SS Individual Championsihp. She ended the postseason with a 73.8 scoring average.

Her 74 at Poppy Hills tied for fourth on the individual leaderboard at state.

She had some success during the regular season too, placing third in the Long Beach Wilson Invitational, a result that helped the Trojans win the tournament at Recreation Park Golf Course.

“This season, I expected to do well but the thought of winning state never crossed my mind, much less placing fourth individually,” Honda said. “Days before the rounds, I practiced longer and played on the course more so that I would feel more confident and during the round, even when I hit a bad shot, I would just tell myself that it’s OK and I shouldn’t stress too much about it. Being on the team this year was an absolute joy because of how much the team and I were able to accomplish.”