DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Barry University sophomore women's golfer Nancy Vergara won the NCAA Division II National Championship Saturday, claiming the individual title with a four-round 3-over 291.
"I still cannot believe it," Vergara said. "I'm still getting through the idea that I won."
Vergara, a sophomore from Caracas, Venezuela, shot 75 in the final round to beat Nova Southeastern's Linnea Johansson by a stroke for the national medalist honor. Johansson shot 77 in the final round. Nova's Daniela Ortiz finished third, three strokes behind Vergara, after shooting 77 in the last round.
"It was amazing," Vergara said. "I was hitting the ball pretty solid the four days. I was prepared to play with the leader today. In the last three holes, everything came together, and I won."
Vergara had three bogeys and no birdies in the final round, completing a steady 72-hole championship event in which she never wavered out of second place. With her mother, Nancy, watching after making the trip from Venezuela, she sank a four-foot par putt on the 340-yard 18th hole to win it.
"She just hung in there and hung there," said Buccaneers coach Shannon Sykora, who never left Vergara's side the entire final round.
Barry finished third as a team, putting up the low round Saturday with a 300. The Bucs shot 1,194 on the 6,228-yard, par 72 LPGA International Legends Course to fall seven strokes shy of champion Lynn, who ended Nova's four-year reign at the top. The Fighting Knights beat the Sharks by three strokes to win the title in a 12-team field dominated by the three Sunshine State Conference schools.
"We did something right," Sykora said. "I think they realized more and more that they can do it. I'm very proud of the way they just kept their heads down and just grinded."
Barry freshman Maria Paola Fiorio shot 75 Saturday, finishing in a four-way tie for 14th at 303. Fiorio had four birdies in the last round, including the par-3 15th. She birdied the 164-yard hole three times during the week, and finished with a team-high 11 in the tournament.
Bucs freshman Nicky Ferre tied with Tarleton State's Jessica Pickwick for 18th at 304, following her second straight 77. Ferre birdied the par-4 17th before parring out to cap a 5-over final round. Ferre solved the 17th after putting up three straight bogeys on the hole in the earlier rounds.
Barry senior Taylor Babcock and sophomore Daniela Murray tied for 20th with St. Edward's Ryanne Haddow at 305. Babcock, an honorable mention All-American as a junior, had two birdies in the final round to anchor a 3-over 75 in her final collegiate appearance. Murray also had two birdies to shoot 75. Both Murray and Babcock jumped four spots up the leaderboard on the final day.
Lynn's Ellen Chambers finished fourth at 7-over 295, and Grand Canyon's Charlotte Jaengkit fifth at 296. The Buccaneers were 32 strokes better than fourth-place St. Edward's. Grand Canyon, which is making the jump to Division I next year, was fifth, 41 strokes behind the Bucs.
"I think our game has improved a lot," Vergara said. "I think we have a really, really good opportunity (next year). We know we can beat the best."
On this day, Vergara was the best.