BELLEVILLE — A new era in Belleville East girls golf is set to begin as Shawn Coughlin takes over the coaching reigns this season.
Coughlin, a 2000 graduate of Althoff where he played football and was a member of the Crusaders' track and field team, takes over an East program which has finished in the middle of the pack in the Southwestern Conference the past few of years.
But with three seniors -- Emily Furlow, Abbey Gundlach and Alexis Hardin -- leading the way, expectations are high heading into the start of the 2013 season, which begins Saturday at the Mascoutah Invitational.
"We lost a lot seniors from a year ago, but we've got a nice core group of juniors and seniors who have worked on their games over the summer,'' Coughlin said. "There is a lot of competition in the Southwestern Conference, but I think we'll be very competitive.
"If we continue to work on out short games and eliminate our mental mistakes, then we'll be fine. We've got some girls who are ready to step up and play well."
All three of the Lancers seniors are capable players who can post rounds in the mid 40s or better each time out.
Furlow, who played in the Lancers top three much of last season, probably has the most experience and will lead the way.
"Emily is a good player. She hits the ball well off the tee and is consistently in the fairways. She also hits her irons well and has a solid short game,'' Coughlin said. "Abbey (Gundlach) is another solid player who is pretty long off the tee. Her short irons and short game need a little work, but we're working on that. She'll be fine.''
Hardin is a consistent player according to Coughlin, who also has high hopes for sophomore Colette Thro, along with Madison Meyer and Brianna Ward. Of the three, Thro is probably the leading threat to play the No. 4 spot.
"I really look for her to break into the top four this season. She's got a really nice golf swing, but she hasn't played much golf at the varsity level,'' Coughlin said. "Overall, I've been pleased by what I've seen from all the girls. They all have great attitudes and want to be good players.''
Kara Brockmeyer, Ellie Munie and Emma Crank round up the Lancers' varsity roster.
"We've got 15 players in the program and that's a good number, because it means that the girls at both the varsity and junior varsity levels are going to get a lot of chances to play in matches and get that experience,'' Coughlin said. "The goal is to just continue to work hard and keep improving as the season goes on. Of course, we also want to do well in our tournaments and finish with a winning record. I think we've got the talent to do that."