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SMC Golf: Belles take home conference title

Brendan Bell | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It was a tale of two seasons for Saint Mary’s, as the Belles enhanced their roster between the fall and spring semesters and won the MIAA championship, and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

“Our goal coming in was a conference championship and in the fall we failed to do that, but in the spring came back and responded well,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “We played hard with the players we had in the fall and we came relatively close, but in the spring we realigned our goals and our next step was to finish to close to the top of the standings in the conference.”

In the fall season, the Belles placed third in the MIAA tournament behind Olivet and Hope. Saint Mary’s senior captain Natalie Matuszak earned first-team MIAA recognition with a score of 82 in the final round of the conference tournament. Hamilton said Matuszak, along with fellow senior captain Christine Brown, brought invaluable experience to the team this year.

“They have been here forever, and they have seen a lot and been in a lot of golf tournaments,” Hamilton said. “They have been in the NCAA championships four consecutive years and I don’t think that many other people have done that.”

After the third-place conference finish in the fall, the Belles looked to build off their performance and win the conference tournament. After a number of strong tune-up contests, the Belles traveled to play in the three-day MIAA tournament.

Low scores from sophomores Doyle O’Brien and Paige Pollak gave Saint Mary’s a large enough cushion to win the MIAA tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA championship at the Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind. The Belles fell short of their goal with a 15th-place finish, but did end the tournament with a cumulative score of 1,304, the best four-day score in Saint Mary’s history.

Contact Brendan Bell at bbell2@nd.edu