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SMC GOLF: Belles conclude play against Olivet today

Anna Fricano | Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today marks the beginning of the end of the fall golf season for the women of Saint Mary’s, as the Belles will travel to Olivet this afternoon to compete in the first of two conference jamborees before the MIAA Championships in two weeks.

These three competitions, the only three left on the Saint Mary’s fall schedule, will determine the outcome of the MIAA conference for the 2005 season – and right now, the Belles are right where they want to be.

After a distinctive victory at Calvin just a week ago, Saint Mary’s is sitting on top of the rankings, a place the team has grown accustomed to since beginning its conference winning streak in 2002. The only MIAA team that has finished ahead of Saint Mary’s in any competition this year is the host team of today’s event. Olivet beat the Belles at Ferris State during the first event of the season, but the scoring did not affect conference standings.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on Saint Mary’s performance in the NCAA tournament in recent years, but head coach Mark Hamilton made it certain from the beginning of the year that the team is not getting ahead of itself.

“We don’t talk a lot about NCAA in the fall,” he said. “We concentrate on winning conference, on making adjustments and getting better.”

The team has definitely had to make some adjustments this fall. After graduating three seniors last spring, the Belles needed players to step up and fill the gaps. Hamilton has been confident in this year’s seniors to lead the way for the team.

“[We have] two honorable mention MIAA players in Megan Mattia and Nicole Bellino … they’ve both had a lot of success and a lot of experience,” Hamilton said.

Mattia has had an especially successful season this year, finishing first for Saint Mary’s in all of the team’s events so far. At Calvin College last week, Mattia has posted scores of 79 and 77 in the last two weeks.

Senior and co-captain Kirsten Fantom has also made a big impact for the Belles this season.

In addition, sophomore Katie O’Brien has finished in the top three for Saint Mary’s in every competition so far.

Today should not prove to be much of a surprise. The course is familiar, as are the opponents. The Belles have overcome tough competition against Division-I schools and have made adjustments to get ready for the conference championship. The Belles will tee-off today against all conference opponents for the first 18-hole round.