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SMC Golf: Belles Struggle against Division 1 Competition

Anna Fricano | Monday, September 12, 2005

The Saint Mary’s golf team faced a multitude of challenges this weekend at the Notre Dame Invitational, not including the host of Division-I programs that took part in the tournament. Unfamiliar territory, uncomfortable temperatures and unexpected illness all provided extra difficulty for the Belles, who accepted an invitation to be the only Division-III team at the annual event, hosted by the Notre Dame women’s golf team.

Saint Mary’s finished in last place out of 17 teams at the invitational, which Notre Dame won. The Irish finished nine strokes ahead of the runner-up, the University of Toledo, which was followed by Georgetown in third place.

The weekend marked the fourth time in six years that the Irish have claimed the title at their home tournament.

Five Saint Mary’s women competed in the 54-hole tournament, which took place at Warren Golf Course, but senior and co-captain Nicole Bellino was forced to withdraw before the third round due to illness.

Senior Megan Mattia led the way for the Belles, finishing in 68th place overall with scores consistently in the mid-80s. Kirsten Fantom, also a senior and co-captain for Saint Mary’s, showed scores that reflected the general trend of the team. Fantom struggled in the first round, finishing at 94, but improved her score by nine strokes in the second round.

“Overall, I think we were pretty proud of sticking it out,” Fantom said.”I think we expected our numbers to be a little lower, but we shouldn’t be ashamed at all of how it ended up.”

The invitational marked the first of its kind in which the Belles have competed, being a three-round tournament taking place over two days. And the Warren Golf Course, located just northeast of campus, provided a challenge in itself for Saint Mary’s, which initially struggled on the greens. Their scores reflected the level of confidence they were able to gain after having played a round on Saturday.

“Once we got over getting used to the greens we were able to get down our scores,” Fantom said.

The team went from an overall score of 369 in the first round to 350 in the second round. The Belles were hindered in yesterday morning’s third and final round, having only four golfers after Bellino withdrew. The team finished the last round with a score of 374.

If there was one factor that the Belles did not let get to them, it was the level of intimidation that comes with being the only Division-III school up against 16 D-I programs.

Although Saint Mary’s finished in last place in the tournament, they were in no way blown out of the water by the competition. They were, for the most part, able to keep up with all of the groups in the tournament.

“I think it’s good every once in awhile for Division-III teams to play bigger competition,” Fantom said. “There’s no reason to feel intimidated, [because] we’re a good team overall. These girls are almost all scholarship – we just play for the love of the game.”

The 54 holes of golf that the women played this weekend should do well to prepare them for the first major competition of the year. On Wednesday, the Belles will travel to Calvin College to compete in the first MIAA competition of the season. Expectations will continue to be high for the team, which hopes to capture its fourth MIAA title in a row.

Contact Anna Fricano at [email protected]