Men's preview: Northeast Conference

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1Joey GarberGeorgia  68.61 
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4Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  68.81 
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It’s been a challenge for Kevin Farrell since he took over at Mount St. Mary’s in 2007. His budget is small, winter weather is brutal in the Northeast, and his scholarship money is a little light.

However, for the first time since 2007, the former Mount player was able to lead his alma mater to a victory. With a win at the ECAC Championship, Mount St. Mary’s ended a four-year losing streak by defeating Saint Peter’s by five strokes.

Shortly after that, the Mountaineers finished runner-up at the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh Airport Classic to close the fall. “We definitely ended on a high note,” Farrell said. “Last season we ended on a high as well, coming in third at conference and not finishing too far behind first.”

The Mount program often was overlooked by its athletics department, but this year its win and better play hasn’t gone unnoticed. “The support and knowledge has completely changed,” Farrell said. ‘Now, my AD is sending us text messages in support at tournaments, and it feels so good to be winning.”

Farrell was a junior for the Mount in 2007, but says this team is completely different. Back then, his team was a bit apathetic and would often give the coach a hard time. Now Farrell is the one calling the shots and running things the way he wants to. The Mountaineers have four underclassmen on their roster, and according to Farrell all want to play or work at golf as often and as much as they can.

“I remember how much fun it was in 2007 when we won,” Farrell said. “It was at our home course, but it was a long time ago. It’s good to be winning agian.”

Mount St. Mary’s ended the fall ranked 222nd in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, but finished with a head-to-head record of 20-21. It may not be an impressive ranking, but this team is taking baby steps to success.

This year, the Mount will go after a Northeast Conference Championship. That’s something the school didn’t even consider just a couple of years ago.

• • •

Top of the class: Sacred Heart

Best player this fall: Josh Salah, Sacred Heart

• • •

Past champions

2007: Monmouth

2008: Sacred Heart

2009: Sacred Heart

2010: St. Francis

2011: Sacred Heart

• • •

Conference capsules

Sacred Heart (Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: No. 173)

After a couple close calls to start, the Pioneers came out on top at the 16-team UConn Invite to end the fall.

Central Connecticut State (No. 196)

The Blue Devils have been unable to slide into the winner’s circle, but a runner-up at the CCSU Fall Invite is very encouraging.

Mount St. Mary's (No. 222)

Kevin Ellison won medalist honors at the ECAC Championships to help The Mount to its first team title since ’07.

Robert Morris (No. 232)

Eagles improved with nearly every event, wrapping up the fall with fifth- and third-place finishes, respectively, in their last two tournaments.

Fairleigh Dickinson (No. 242)

Highlights for the Knights include a fourth at Rutgers’ event and third at FDU Invite.

Saint Francis-Pa. (No. 265)

The final two events of the fall notwithstanding, the Red Flash showed bursts of good play, including a win at the six-team, one-round MAC Invitational.

Monmouth (No. 267)

Hawks were no better than fifth in five full starts this fall, but outside of Seton Hall’s event (13th) played pretty solid.

Long Island (No. 268)

Disappointing fall in the team race, but freshman Obe Ayton has been a revelation for the Blackbirds, carding three top-10 finishes.

Bryant (No. 279)

Led by Spencer Sweitzer, the Bulldogs saved their best for last in taking home the team title at the NEIGA Division I Championship (finished second overall).

Wagner (No. 286)

In five events, the Seahawks finished fifth at Robert Morris but also had two results outside the top 15.

St. Francis-N.Y. (No. 291)

Terriers finished near the bottom of the leaderboard in each event, earning a fall-best eighth at the Rehobeth Beach Fall Invite.

Conference championship

May 4-6, LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lance Ringler's prediction

Sacred Heart. With four of the top five players coming back - including three seniors in the top five - the Pioneers will repeat as the Northeast Conference champs.

• • •

Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

• • •

Going social with Golfweek

Want to follow our college gurus on Twitter? Here are some quick links:

• You can follow blogger Asher Wildman here

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• Check out Ryan Lavner's witty commentary here

• For the latest on golf in social media, as well as college and junior news, check out D.J. Piehowski on Twitter here.

• And follow all of college golf on Facebook by clicking here

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