The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC Golf: Belles sitting pretty atop MIAA conference

Anna Fricano | Monday, September 26, 2005

With the fall schedule all but finished for the Saint Mary’s golf team, it looks as though the program will be sitting comfortably atop the 2005 MIAA standings, a position the Belles have occupied for three consecutive years.

Saturday marked the final of three conference jamborees that make up the bulk of the MIAA rankings, and the team gave a strong final performance, squeezing out a first-place finish with runners-up Tri-State University only one stroke behind.

Also a point of pride for the Belles on Saturday was senior Megan Mattia, who took home top individual honors for the day, finishing the 18-hole round with a score of 81.

Saturday marked a few surprises for the MIAA and brought a little bit of excitement along with it. Olivet College, which has been challenging the Belles for the top spot all season and is the only MIAA team to have beaten Saint Mary’s this year, gave somewhat of a disappointing performance.

Olivet finished in fourth place with a score of 361, 13 strokes behind the 348 that Saint Mary’s hit to take home the medal.

A strong performance by Tri-State was really the big surprise of the day, however. After having an incomplete roster all season due to injuries, Tri-State has been shooting mediocre scores all fall and remaining comfortably in the middle of the conference standings. Saturday marked the first time that the team was able to play full strength, with one of its strongest golfers returning for the first time after a neck injury that has kept her out all year.

Shooting an impressive 349 on the day, the University was the only team to really give the Belles a run for their money.

But it was Saint Mary’s who claimed the top spot, and who is now sitting in perfect position for the MIAA Championships, which take place in two weeks.

The Belles were happy to have the opportunity to pull away from Olivet a little bit, giving themselves some leeway going into the last tournament.

“[Beating Olivet] wasn’t necessarily a relief … but it was good because now we are that much farther ahead going into conference,” senior co-captain Nicole Bellino said. “It gave us a pretty big push.”

The push was enough to put Saint Mary’s a total of 22 strokes ahead of Olivet, enough that, provided no major disasters occur between now and Oct. 8, the Belles are pretty much guaranteed their fourth conference championship in as many years.

To get themselves ready for the two-day MIAA tournament, the Belles will continue to do what they have done all season, except with a temporary break from all the pressures that have gone along with attending the many major competitions that they have played in all fall.

The addition of extra tournaments to the regular fall conference schedule, against some major Division-I and II programs, has been taxing on the golfers, and they are ready to get back to the basics and refine their skills.

“All of us know that we can play better,” Bellino said. “These next two weeks we’ll have time to get some things going again. We’ll have time to work and make little changes.”

Everyone on the Saint Mary’s team is ready and excited to end the fall season with a victory.

They will tee-off for the last two times at 1 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 8, when the official conference results will be decided.

“I think we have a pretty good shot at winning [conference],” Bellino said. “It’ll be good … to carry on the SMC tradition of winning it.”