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SMC Golf: Belles look to qualify for NCAA tourney

Megan Golden | Thursday, April 14, 2011

The No. 9 Belles are adding finishing touches to their individual games and getting excited to have take shot at the MIAA NCAA qualifiers.

Coming off of a first-place finish at the Southwestern Invitational, the Belles are working on improving their game under unfavorable weather conditions. Belles coach Mark Hamilton said the team is preparing for any weather that might present a challenge.

“We are still working on getting used to being outside,” he said. “The poor weather this spring has hindered our normal preparation. We are trying to cover all aspects of the game and make sure there are no major weaknesses when tournament time comes.”

Saint Mary’s entire roster will travel to Marshall, Mich., to compete against fellow MIAA squads. Hamilton said he is pleased with how the freshmen have been performing and is excited to see how they score Thursday.

“Our freshmen, Doyle O’Brien and Marin Beagley, have been very consistent for young players,” he said. “Doyle kept us in the first round in Texas by leading the team scoring in some horrible weather. Marin just keeps getting better every week and her scores are about to go from good to great in the next two weeks.”

With such a young team traveling, leadership is key. As two of Saint Mary’s top golfers, seniors Mary Kate Boyce and Rosie O’Connor are expected to lead the Belles by example.

Hamilton said Boyce is her biggest critic and that she is capable of performing well under pressure.

“Mary Kate and Rosie O’Connor have both elevated their game to the level it needs to be for us to contend for the NCAA title,” Hamilton said. “No one expects more from Mary Kate than she expects from herself. She has laid the groundwork to become the best player in [Division III] and we are working on peaking at the right time.”

Boyce said she does not allow others’ expectations to distract her from playing well.

“At the end of the day, all I am looking to do is my best,” Boyce said. “Whether that lives up to other people’s expectations is out of my control.”

If the Belles win Thursday, they will face No. 1 DePauw, No. 3 Wisconsin-Eau Claire and No. 11 Illinois Wesleyan in the Illinois Wesleyan University Spring Fling this weekend.

“This is a big week for us. The MIAA NCAA Qualifier at Olivet will be a good challenge. The Medalist is a tough golf course and our main competition, Olivet, is playing well,” Hamilton said. “We are looking to go there and just play a solid round and accept the results.”

The Belles will take the course and begin the MIAA NCAA qualifier Thursday.