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SMC Golf: Belles’ fall season ends with third place finish

Joe Monardo | Monday, October 10, 2011

The Belles’ fall season came to an end Saturday with the conclusion of the MIAA championships at Bedford Valley Golf Course, leaving the Belles in a very unfamiliar position.

Saint Mary’s finished third in the conference standings behind first place Olivet and second place Hope, making this the first time since 2006 that the Belles did not finish the season in either first or second in the MIAA.

Although the team put forth several impressive individual performances this season, the Belles failed to put forth a complete round as a team, Belles coach Mark Hamilton said.

“I think it felt like we never gelled with four scores this year, and we came close,” he said. “The teams that beat us seemed to have one or two tournaments where they had four good scores on the board, so that was the big difference I felt.”

The Belles entered the weekend tournament 45 strokes back of first place, but slipped further down the leaderboard as Hope and Olivet both put forth impressive performances in the final two rounds of the season.

Olivet headed into Friday’s round 15 strokes out of first place, but after turning in rounds of 325 and 315, took home the conference title by 10 strokes. Saint Mary’s recorded rounds of 337 each in the two rounds.

Although the Belles were not able to challenge for the conference title more intensely this season, Hamilton said his team showed enough promise to be in a good position for the spring season.

“The last couple of days really weren’t too bad,” he said. “We saw some bright spots. We have some things to work on this winter. We’ve got some players coming back from studying abroad that I think will challenge for some spots in the top five, and I think that will make a difference.”

Among the bright spots for the Belles this fall were the seasons put forth by senior co-captains Natalie Matuszak and Christine Brown, who were named to the All-MIAA first team and All-MIAA second team, respectively. Matuszak led the Belles in the conference championships with her combined score of 159, the lowest score earned by any golfer not from Olivet, and the fourth-best score overall.

The spring season is comprised of just three rounds of golf that determine the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. To make sure they perform well in the spring, the Belles will focus on reducing their errors on the course.

“I would say some of the unforced errors that we were still having we need to get better at,” Hamilton said. “It was getting better at the end of the season, but we had some unforced errors that we can’t [be making].”

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu