Source: Hometown Life
Author: Dan O'Meara
After being denied a championship celebration a year ago, Farmington Hills Mercy played the role of spoiler and had it this year in the Catholic League girls golf tournament.
The Marlins crushed pre-meet favorite Macomb Lutheran North's hopes for a victory by winning the team title Monday at Edgewood Country Club in Commerce Township.
"Last year, we were the favorite going in, and Ladywood snuck up and beat us," Mercy coach Vicky Kowalski said. "This year, Lutheran North was the favorite, and we snuck up and beat them.
"I was talking with Lutheran North coach Lori Gill, and she said, 'I guess it's not a good idea to be a favorite.' Our girls played really well today."
Lutheran North was invited to participate in the tournament and was eligible to win the championship for the first time this year, as were fellow auxiliary members Cranbrook Kingswood and Jewish Academy.
The Mustangs, who are the all-schools Macomb County champions, were 9-0 in league dual matches and were expected to win the 10-team tournament, too.
Mercy shot a 324 team score and won by five strokes over Lutheran North. Livonia Ladywood was third and Bloomfield Hills Marian fourth with 347 and 366, respectively.
"We had to have our best round to beat them and we did," Kowalski said. "They had been shooting under 320 in some of their tournaments. They were under 302 when we played them at Twin Lakes."
Mercy sophomore Mia Sooch shot a 3-over-par 74 to become the league medalist. The Marlins had the top three golfers as sophomore Sophie Vanderweele shot 78 and senior Marissa Lobbia 79
Lobbia was part of a four-way tie for third place with Ladywood teammates Jordyn Rioux, who won the tournament last year, and Lydia Cranmer and Lutheran North's Sydney Martens.
Mercy junior Maddie Rennie shot 93 and finished 20th to complete the team score. Senior Rachael Phillips was 22nd (97) and junior Maddy Gwinn tied for 23rd (98).
"I knew our top three girls would have to play their best games," Kowalski said. "I knew that was the only way we would have a chance against Lutheran North.
"Maddie Rennie has really come on for us this year. At the beginning of the year, we were counting a 97, 98 or 99 as the fourth score. We had to have someone else step up."
"In our last three tournaments, Maddie shot 91, 87 and 93. That has helped our team score come down by having that fourth score come down a few strokes."
The Mercy girls are playing well at the right time, she added. They play Wednesday in the Division 1 regional tournament at Dearborn Country Club and will be shooting for a top-three finish and berth in the Oct. 14-15 state meet.
"The girls were very excited about the result today," Kowalski said. "They feel like they're trending in the right direction and peaking at the right time.
"The girls feel this is the right time to be figuring it all out, putting it all together. The short game was great. There were very few three-putts today. Overall, I thought their course management was really good today."
Mercy's main competition in the regional is expected to come from Livonia Stevenson.
"We've been in a couple tournaments with them, and they've beaten us each time," Kowalski said. "But our girls feel we can go get them now.
"It's a good group to work with, and I just hope we keep moving forward in the right direction as we close out the season."
Confident of being among the top three in the eight-team regional, the Marlins have scheduled a practice round Friday in East Lansing at Forest Akers East Golf Course, which is where the state meet will be played.
In the awarding of league honors Tuesday, Sooch made the all-Catholic team for the top six players and Vanderweele the all-league team for the Nos. 7-12 golfers. Lobbia made the all-academic team.
Sooch had the lowest average among league players at 37.5. She has been under 80 and made the all-tournament team at every tournament.
"Her game has really come together," Kowalski said. "She's come on as a top player in the state. I think she has a really good chance to make all-state. A lot will depend on what she does Wednesday and at the state finals."