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Capped by eagle, Zachek leads McGuire Invite; Lobos in 2nd

Her smile, understandably, was huge.

And the cheers from the 15 or so friends and family members, mostly from her hometown of Deming, could be heard piercing through the University of New Mexico Championship South Course.

But maybe no reaction to Darian Zachek’s fantastic second-round finish — an eagle on the 475-yard Par-5 18th hole set up by a beautiful approach shot within 10 feet of the pin — was more telling than that of UNM Lobos golf coach Jill Trujillo.

After a stressful day of not only being in charge of hosting the 16-team Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational, an event that annually draws a high-level field that includes several NCAA Tournament caliber programs, Trujillo the coach was growing a little tired of keeping the stoic, calm and focussed demeanor she showed all afternoon.

So when Zachek, the final Lobo to finish round 2 on Monday, found the bottom of the cup on 18 for the only eagle in the tournament and a collegiate career-best round of 67, Trujillo went with the double-fist-pump celebration as she walked toward her senior leader.

“Finally,” Trujillo said. “I had to keep calm and even all day. But that one, it was so good at the end. … Last putt. Got to give it up. This one — (hole No.) 18 specifically — it’s one I really wanted to see go in.”

The eagle gave Zachek a second-round 67 to follow a morning round of 70 and lead the 40th annual McGuire Invitational at 7-under par (137) heading into Tuesday’s third and final round.

The Lobos as a team sit in a tie for second place with Northwestern at 3 under par, four strokes behind leader Kent State (-7). The three will tee off together at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday for the final round.

UNM has not won the McGuire since 2008 and not finished in the top 5 since 2009.

Kent State (7th) and Northwestern (4th) were top 10 team finishers at last season’s NCAA Championship.

But Monday belonged to the Lobo senior from Deming.

While Zachek credited her putter for the brilliant round, her ability to shake off adversity might have been as much the reason.

She bogeyed the day’s second hole, then birdied four of her next eight holes.

Then came the par-4 15th and what could have been a tournament-derailing double-bogey.

“My tee shot, I hit it a little bit short so I had to hit a long iron in, over the trees,” Zachek recalled. “I just hit it too low and I caught the trees and it went in the water.”

She shook it off to finish the first round par, par, birdie before firing the 5-under, 67 round 2.

“I was just super confident,” she said. “We played a lot of rounds and prepared a lot for this tournament. We should be super confident. The whole team played well.”

Her coach said not to let Zachek’s demeanor fool you.

“She’s pretty quiet,” Trujillo said. “She’s not one that likes to get up in front of crowds and talk to people. She’s a silent killer. For somebody who looks so sweet on the outside, she’ll cut you.”

So when Zachek again bogeyed the 15th in round two, she again shook it off and finished with a flurry.

“I had that bogey coming in and I was super determined to get it back,” Zachek said of her mind set going into the day’s final hole. “So I went for it (the green) in two. Luckily I had a 10 foot putt and, yeah. It went in.”

NEW MEXICO STATE: It wasn’t the best of trips north for the Aggies.

NMSU sits in last place in the 16-team field heading into Tuesday’s third and final round after firing a 37-over par 613, including a tournament-high team round of 315 in the first round.

Cleveland High graduate Dominique Galloway, a junior at NMSU, had the Aggies’ best two-round score at 4-over-par 148.

LEADERBOARD: Through 36 of 54 holes, here are the leaders of the McGuire Invitationalor CLICK HERE for live stats:

1. Darian Zachek, UNM — -7
t2. Cindy Oh, California — -5
t2. Fernanda Escauriza, SDSU — -5
t4. Sophie Hausmann, Idaho — -4
t4. Michaela Finn, Kent State — -4

1. Kent State — -7
t2. New Mexico — -3
t2. Northwestern — -3
4. San Diego State -1
(no other teams under par)