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SMC Golf: NCAA tournament awaits Belles

Jack Hefferon | Friday, May 20, 2011

Looking to build on an already strong winning tradition with great play this spring, Saint Mary’s looks to establish itself as a national power with another NCAA tournament appearance.

The No. 8 Belles’ spring season started with a series of top finishes at prestigious national tournaments. The team started off on a high note, as evidenced by the record-shattering 66 score posted by senior captain Mary Kate Boyce at the season-opening George Fox Invitational. That score was the lowest round in school history by five strokes, and behind it Saint Mary’s rallied to a second place finish.

The team continued to build on that momentum at the Southwestern Invitational, where it fought off strong winds and top-25 competition for its first victory. Boyce said the mix of personal and team success has made the season rewarding.

“What is exciting about this golf season is we have been successful in so many different aspects,” Boyce said.

After the triumph in the Southwestern Invitational, the Belles rolled into the MIAA NCAA qualifier looking for their third straight NCAA tournament berth. The Belles fell behind early and trailed rival No. 13 Olivet by 12 strokes after the first round.

Led by closing scores of 78 from Boyce and freshman Marin Beagley, the Belles charged back in the final round, eventually winning the tournament by 24 strokes.

“Winning the MIAA championships is huge because we have such a strong conference,” Boyce said. “Knocking off the No. 13 team in the country to get the automatic bid is a confidence booster, as well as great recognition for our golf program.”

Now, Saint Mary’s will set its sights on an NCAA championship. The team finished fourth in the competition last year and hopes to contend for the title once again.