Muscle Shoals, Ala. - The Georgia State women's golf team, playing in its first Sun Belt Conference Championship, saved its best round for last, shooting a final round 11-over 299, to finish seventh at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Championship. The Panthers finished the 54-hole event on the Robert Trent Jones Fighting Joe Course at 49-over, with a pair of players in the top 25.

With a final round 2-over 74, junior Laura Sanchez tied for 12th at 8-over. Sanchez birdied the first and 18th holes for her second best score of the event after a second round 1-over 73.

Junior Melissa Siviter also saved her best round for last, shooting a final round 1-over 73 on Wednesday to finish tied for 23rd. Siviter made four birdies, but her round was derailed by a pair of double bogeys.

“We played much better today and that was our goal going into the day,” commented head coach Cathy Mant. “We viewed today as the start of next season and we wanted to start it off right.

“Obviously, we wanted to finish better overall in our first Sun Belt Championship, but we tip our cap to the teams that finished ahead of us and we know what we need to do for next season. Although we had some good scores today, we still had too many doubles and triples and you just can not have that if you want to compete for a championship.

“We had some upperclassmen on the team this year, but many of them were new to Georgia State. It took some time for everyone to get used to each other and over the course of the season, you can see how much we got better. With everyone returning, I think we are going to be a much stronger team and with it being such a good group that wants to improve, I have no doubt that we will be better when the season starts.”

Freshman Julie Lied shot a final round 77 to finish at 16-over for the tournament and alone in 29th. Lied finished with four birdies in her round and shot just 1-over on the front nine.

Junior Maria Palacios tied with junior Solveig Helgesen for 32nd place at 18-over. Palacios fired a final round 75, her best of the championship, while Helgesen shot a final round 81.

Florida International easily took home the team title, shooting its second straight 1-under, 287 and finishing the event at 8-over, 16 strokes ahead of second place Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders shot a final round 9-over 297 to finish second at 24-over. South Alabama finished third at 26-over, followed by Troy in fourth at 38-over. Louisiana Monroe rounded out the top five at 42-over.

FIU’s Meghan MacLaren shot a final round 73 to finish at 4-under and earn a two-stroke win over Middle Tennessee’s Olivia Love who finished at 2-under. South Alabama’s Kristen Golightly finished third at even par, while FIU’s Sophie Godley and Tania Tare finished fourth and fifth respectively at 2- and 3-over..

Georgia State will return all but one senior and all five starters from the conference championship next season which is scheduled to begin in September.

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