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SMC Golf: Belles to start off conference play

Nathaniel Lee | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Belles will begin their conference schedule tomorrow, playing the first round of the MIAA Qualifier.

Saint Mary’s will play the first of three rounds of the MIAA Qualifier at Blackthorn Golf Course, with the final two rounds played April 24 and 25.

This past weekend Saint Mary’s withdrew from the Trine Invitational due to weather and travel issues. The Belles were in second place after one round, trailing only MIAA opponent Olivet.

“We were three strokes behind Olivet, the team we needed to beat last weekend, but we weren’t playing our best,” head coach Mark Hamilton said. “We are confident that everyone’s form is coming together at the right time, and we can win.”

The No. 12-ranked Belles, who finished second in the MIAA Championships in the fall to No. 11 Olivet, also finished second this spring at the Southwestern Invite at Georgetown, Texas. They will host the first round of the MIAA Qualifier at local Blackthorn Golf Course, and hope to seize the opportunity playing at a familiar venue.

“In college, you don’t get home matches often so we need to take advantage of that,” Hamilton said. “We really need to tee-off well and get good lines in order to take the edge.”

Saint Mary’s has been led this spring by the trio of sophomores Rosie O’Conner and Mary Kate Boyce, and senior captain Meredith Fantom. O’Conner, MIAA conference medalist in the fall season, shot an 83 in the first round at Trine. Boyce led the Belles at the tournament with an 82, and senior captain Meredith Fantom shot an 84.

“Our top player lately has been Mary Kate Boyce, she has been really solid the last couple of weeks and we expect her to continue that,” Hamilton said. “Natalie Matuszak and Rosie O’Conner have also been returning to form at the right time now, so we look to be competitive.”

The nine MIAA women’s golf teams will compete for the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which will be determined from the first round tomorrow and two rounds in Marshall, Mich. later this month.