by Tom Utescher
The end is not in sight for Mount St. Joseph’s dominance of the Catholic Academies golf scene, as the 10-time defending league champion Magic return a group of players that includes both the individual league champion and the PIAA District 1 champion from 2012.
Senior Alison Snakard, who won the AACA tourney last fall, is the team captain this season, while District titlist Isabella DiLisio is a junior who is already being recruited at the highest levels of collegiate golf.
Because of the way golf competition is structured in the PIAA, with a regional tournament scheduled in between the district and state playoffs (most sports go straight from Districts to States), teams must get down to business right away. The Mounties actually played their first match (and a league match, at that) on August 15, and as of last Thursday, the team was already 3-0 in Catholic Academies competition.
Gwynedd Mercy, probably the top challenger, fell to Mount St. Joe in the season opener, 203-240, then the Magic overcame Villa Maria, 220-247. Last Thursday, the Mount was able to complete a round against Sacred Heart before midday rains arrived, winning 215-323.
After sampling several Gaelic coaches, first a Scot and then an Irishman, the Magic found this year’s new mentor much closer to home. Former Temple All-American Michael Brown is a Philadelphia-area native who lives in Blue Bell. He’s the father of current Mount sophomore Claire Brown, who is a member of the golf team and is the youngest of three sisters to attend the Mount.
When the school began looking for a new coach for the team last winter, Michael Brown was asked for suggestions, and he suggested himself. He was already familiar with both the school and its golf program, and he knew that he’d be working with a talented and dedicated group of girls.
In addition to playing for Temple, earning All-American honors in 1983, Brown was also head coach of the Owls from 1985-89. More recently, he’s been instructing young players in a Police Athletic League (PAL) golf outreach program called Kids on the Hill.
Snakard, the Mount team captain, is one of three senior veterans on the roster, along with Emma Feeney and Julia Shinkle. A year below them are DiLisio and another experienced junior, Maggie Schoeller.
Keeping Claire Brown company within the 10th-grade contingent are Mara Boston, Megan Bray, Joannie Gannon, and Laura Park. Brown noted that there are also six freshmen candidates who show potential, and he has been rotating them into the interscholastic matches.
Last Thursday at Flourtown Country Club (one of the Mount’s home venues this year along with Whitemarsh Valley), DiLiso led the way against Sacred Heart by scoring an even-par 35, while Snakard secured a 40.
Schoeller came around in 46 strokes, and the team score was rounded out with a pair of 47’s from Feeney and Shinkle.
As usual, each team designated eight official participants, and the top five scores were figured into the team tally. The other players for the Magic in this match were Boston, one of the sophomores, along with two ninth-graders, Caitlyn Bell and Caitlin Mahon.
Mount St. Joe figures to be one of the top teams in Southeastern Pa. this season, but at the outset the team that must be regarded as the favorite is Radnor High School, the defending state champion and the two-time winner of the District 1 title.