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SMC Golf: Belles head to Trine for ’09 opener

Joe Meixell | Friday, August 28, 2009

The Belles will kick off their season this weekend at the Trine University Invitational in Angola, Ind.

Featuring a young, talented squad, the Saint Mary’s golf team looks to build upon last year’s 10th place finish at the NCAA Championships. They also hope to recapture the MIAA crown for the first time since 2005 and to push back into the NCAA finals in the coming spring.

Though its roster contains just one senior, the team returns four of its top five golfers from last year, many of whom garnered national merit. The Belles will rely on several juniors to lead them to their ultimate goal, an NCAA Championship.

Leadership should come from junior Rosie O’Connor, a first team all-MIAA honoree last season. O’Connor was recognized as the leader in the conference with an 80.2 stroke average in MIAA events and earned distinction as All-Region by the National Golf Coaches Association.

In addition to O’Connor, junior Mary Kate Boyce looks to provide a boost to the Belles. Last year, her first on the team, Boyce shot a 77 in only her second round of competition and later medaled in an MIAA spring qualifier.

Another returning golfer hoping to make an impact is sophomore Natalie Matuszak, who earned second team all-conference honors last fall.

Eight-year head coach Mark Hamilton has seen his share of success while at Saint Mary’s, including a 2003 run that saw the Belles end the season at No. 4 in the nation After winning the MIAA conference championship from 2002-2005, Saint Mary’s has seen conference rival Olivet take the crown for the past three years.

This weekend’s Trine Invitational will be followed by the O’Brien D-III Championships, which the Belles will host Sept. 13 and 14. Saint Mary’s will begin its conference schedule Sept. 17 with a match at Albion.