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SMC Golf: Belles seek automatic bid

Luke Mansour | Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No. 5 Belles quest to repeat as conference champions will start anew Wednesday when they play the first of three MIAA qualifiers in Marshall, Mich.

The Belles come in confident following two victories over conference rival Trine University over the past weekend, one at home and another in Angola, Ind.

Junior Rosie O’Connor said she was satisfied with her team’s performance during the two dual meets and hopes the team’s success can continue into the first qualifier.

“We are confident going into the MIAA qualifier,” O’Connor said. “We had two great rounds this weekend at South Bend Country Club and Zollner Golf Club, and everything we have been practicing is starting to come together on the course.”

The Belles will again need to minimize mistakes if they hope to win an automatic berth for the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Inconsistency has prevented the Belles from higher finishes in a few tournaments this year, including the Southwestern Invitational. To eliminate those mistakes, O’Connor said the team needs to stay “confident and focused on the course.”

“We must go out and play our game one hole at a time,” she said.

Saint Mary’s hopes once again to be one of the 11 team given an automatic bid to the Tournament, which occurs by virtue of winning the MIAA qualifying tournament. Because the Belles won the MIAA conference title during the fall season, they have the privilege of hosting the second and third qualifying rounds to be held on April 23 and 24 at the Medalist Golf Course

“[The Medalist Golf Course] is a challenging course, but one that we are confident on and have played on many times,” O’Connor said. “It’s nice to know we have the next two rounds of qualifying at home. We know our home courses the best.”

Although the Belles expect to win their qualifying tournament, if they falter they can still qualify if they win pool B, which conference opponent Olivet University did to qualify after the Belles won the automatic berth last year. There are 10 additional individual qualifiers for the NCAA tournament.

The Belles enter the first qualifier with a target on their backs, having won the conference title in the fall and being ranked as high as No. 2 at that time.

O’Connor, along with standouts sophomore Natalie Matuszak and junior Mary Kate Boyce, must put up a big performance in order for the Belles to get off to a good start. Belles coach Mark Hamilton stressed the performance of the back end of the lineup as well.

“I look for whoever plays in those spots to come in with a good number,” Hamilton said.
The Belles begin their journey for automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament

Wednesday at noon at the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Mich.