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SMC Golf: Saint Mary’s enters conference championship with big lead

Anna Fricano | Friday, October 7, 2005

This weekend, members of the Saint Mary’s golf team will have the opportunity to set a new standard for the program and make history at the College.

Having won three consecutive conference titles in the past three years, the Belles are one championship tournament away from becoming the first-ever Saint Mary’s team to take the MIAA golf title four years in a row.

After three conference jamborees, distributed throughout the fall season, the Belles currently have a 22-stroke lead in the MIAA.

Last season, it was Olivet who gave the Belles a run for their money in the championship, finishing only two strokes behind in second place.

But with the combined scores from the first three jamborees, Saint Mary’s already had a 68-stroke lead going into the tournament, taking off most of the pressure for the weekend.

This weekend will likely be very similar for the team. Olivet is again in second place behind the Belles, and it did manage to finish ahead of Saint Mary’s in one of the league jamborees this fall.

But the Belles have maintained the overall lead in the conference by a comfortable margin after Olivet finished in fourth place, 13 strokes behind Saint Mary’s, in the most recent conference competition.

With such a large gap between first and second place in the conference standings, the Belles are working hard to make sure that they don’t lose their focus going into this weekend.

Head coach Mark Hamilton said that the team is concentrating on two main factors for motivation to perform well.

“[Our lead] is 22 strokes, and while we don’t like to think in those terms, it’s possible that over the course of two days, that could deteriorate,” Hamilton said.

Also, the Belles will go into this weekend with the spring season in the backs of their minds. Hamilton commented that the team will work to improve its scores, in order to maintain its chances of getting to the national tournament in May.

“Our second motivation is that we need to lower our scoring averages, which will determine who goes to NCAA,” Hamilton said.

“There will be a couple of teams that we don’t meet before then, so it will be determined by our scores.”

The Bedford Valley Country Club, where this weekend’s 36-hole event will take place, is known to provide a challenging round of golf, but Hamilton is happy with his team’s chances on the course.

“The course suits our style, but it’s slightly tougher than the standard course,” Hamilton said. “It’ll be a good test, and it will separate the good teams from the not-so-good teams.”

Four Saint Mary’s seniors have been with the golf program from the very beginning of its streak of success, and will try to keep it going this weekend.

Megan Mattia has led the way for the Belles this year, capping off a career which has included All-MIAA honors for three seasons already.

Nicole Bellino, a co-captain of this year’s team, was given the coach’s award in 2003, and was named Second Team All Conference in 2004.

Erin McQueen was awarded with the coach’s award in 2004 and has been named to the MIAA Honor Roll, In addition, she is a Mark Bambenek Scholar.

Rounding out the senior class is Kirsten Fantom, who is also a captain of the 2005 team. Fantom has had a strong senior year, finishing in third place overall at the first league jamboree of the season. Ham-ilton is hopeful that the seniors on his team will be able to finish their time with the golf program with a perfect record in the MIAA.

“To win it four times in a row is a great feat,” Hamilton said. “For the seniors to be able to win it four times, that’ll be something they can take with them forever.”

The final event of the fall season will begin today at 1 p.m. Teams will begin to tee-off for the final round at 9 a.m. Saturday.