The slightest improvement by the top three Bishop Carroll girls golf players likely would have earned the Golden Eagles a City League regular-season championship, which they narrowly lost to Kapaun Mount Carmel.
Carroll's top three returners from 2010 — Victoria Harmon, Lakin Ubert and Maddie Walden — have all remained contenders in every tournament. But they haven't been able to unseat Kapaun.
There is still time, though. Carroll, which didn't beat Kapaun in any league meet during the regular season, can topple the Crusaders in today's postseason meet at Auburn Hills by improving scores by just a few strokes.
"They're always motivated, they just need to focus their efforts," Carroll coach Mark Berger said. "They're more focused on winning than getting better. If you get better, the winning takes care of itself."
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Carroll finished second to Kapaun in all four City league tournaments, losing by a single stroke twice. The Eagles beat Kapaun in the Arkansas City tournament last month, a testament to the depth advantage they have over their rival.
Any of Carroll's six golfers is capable of posting a score that will be in the Eagles' top four and count toward their overall score. The problem for Carroll has been finding a player to consistently match up with Kapaun's top three — Courtney Wells, Katie Wells and Hannah Perkins.
Harmon has been Carroll's best player, but she has been hard-pressed to keep pace with Courtney Wells, her counterpart in the No. 1 position.
" (Harmon) has the ability, but to her it's just kind of the mental thing," Berger said. "If something goes wrong, she doesn't handle it very well. She's got to learn to handle that better. Otherwise, she's as good as the top golfers in the city."
Ubert dealt with an injury in the offseason, hampering her early-season progress. Though she was disqualified in the final league meet last week for hitting the wrong ball, her round at Braeburn was among her best of 2011.
Carroll's roster features Diana Staley, Kaitlyn Bush and Carly Hill, who all shot in the 40s at Braeburn and who represent the Eagles' best hopes to win today.
Since Kapaun doesn't possess low scorers at the bottom of its lineup, strong performances by Carroll's bottom three could help them make up the strokes they lose to Kapaun's best players. The 18-hole format could also play to the Eagles' advantage.
"I think your depth overall will eventually catch up with you," Berger said. "In an 18-hole tournament, they have a little more time to realize that something bad is going to happen in an 18-hole tournament, so they can weather that."