New Mount St. Joseph Academy golf coach Michael Dean and 2011 team captain Taylor Bair. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Mount St. Joseph Academy graduated four strong players from its 2010 golf team and has changed coaches as well, but the Magic’s early-season opponents have found the eight-time defending league champions to be every bit as formidable as in the past.

With a league tournament and three different rounds of PIAA playoffs lined up at the end of the schedule, the Mount begins playing regular season matches just a few days after practice begins in mid-August just to fit everything in.

With last Wednesday’s 219-258 victory over visiting Villa Maria Academy at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course, the Magic’s record in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies already stood at 5-0. Opponents have had a long time to get used to these outcomes against Mount St. Joe’s, which went through the AACA without a loss for several seasons even before an official league tourney was instituted in 2003.

This season, the Magic already own non-league wins over Great Valley and Radnor High School. Radnor is always a formidable foe in PIAA District 1, so the Mounties were pleased to pull out a 211-219 victory last Tuesday on the Raiders’ home turf at St. David’s Golf Club. Central Bucks East, which defeated the Mount in the District 1 tournament last year and then easily won the state team championship, has graduated three of its top four players from 2010.

Mount St. Joseph’s graduation losses have been mitigated by the arrival of a rising freshman star, Isabella DiLisio. She led the Magic to Wednesday’s win over Villa by firing a one-under-par 35 on the Militia Hill front nine.

Senior Maeve Elliott carded a 45 in that match, and the Mount got a pair of 46’s from juniors Jessica Malone and Nicole Mischler. Rounding out the Magic’s official team score were 47’s from another talented freshman, Maggie Schoeller, and from senior team captain Taylor Bair.

A 48 by sophomore Alison Snakard and a 50 by senior Liz Doyle were not included in the official tally, but their rounds were still better than most of the scores from the Villa Hurricanes.

Mount St. Joe’s 2011 varsity roster also features senior Allison Platt, juniors Jane Black and Margaret Mary Reilly, and sophomore Emma Feeney.

At the position of head coach, the Mount has made a Celtic shift from Scot Andrew Marr to Irishman Michael Dean. Hailing from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, Dean has qualified in events on both the British and the U.S. PGA schedules. Coming to the States eight years ago, he began working as a pro at the Sunnybrook Golf Club near Lafayette Hill, and for the last five years he’s been affiliated with Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell.