VASSALBORO – Kristen MacDonald says one of her strengths on a golf course is her ability to stay consistent.

If MacDonald posts two more rounds like the one she enjoyed Monday at Natanis Golf Course, she might just be the next New England Women’s Amateur champion.

MacDonald, of Billerica, Mass., opened with a 1-under 71 on the 5,506-yard Tomahawk Course to take a one-stroke lead.

“One-under is probably the best round I’ve had,” said MacDonald, 23, a 2011 Fairfield University graduate. “I was able to hit all the shots I wanted. I’ve had a couple of rounds where I was a few over before. I hit a lot of short irons today.”

MacDonald made three birdies — on the par-3 seventh, par-4 12th and par-3 13th.

The women are playing from the men’s tees on eight holes, adding about 500 yards to the course.

Alison Eleey of Quincy, Mass., was alone in second after a 72. Samantha Morrell, of North Kingstown, R.I., shot a 74, and Alexandra Schmidt of Eastman, N.H., and Jen Holland of Middlefield, Conn., each shot a 75.

“The course is a little quirky,” MacDonald said. “You have trees in the middle of fairways on some holes. You really have to execute your shots. I was able to do a lot of that today.”

Saco native Emily Bouchard, the defending Maine Amateur champ, shot an 81. She had the best round of the 24 Mainers who teed off.

“It was a little bit of a disappointment,” she said. “I’m not real happy with how I played. I am definitely ready to get back out here and get some revenge.”

Bouchard was 2-over after the first nine.

“I fell apart on the back nine,” she said. “The course was in great shape but it’s a challenge. I didn’t do a practice round and I wish I had. I expect to be a lot better (today). I can definitely post a lower score.”

Rebekah Alfond of Belgrade Lakes had an 82, Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club posted an 83, and Mary Brandes of the Woodlands shot an 85.

Natanis member Liz Wiltshire shot an 86 but was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. She didn’t realize her mistake until her score was posted as an 85.

MacDonald will tee off with Eleey and Morrell at noon in today’s second round. The event concludes Wednesday.

“I was expecting to put up a score in the 70s,” MacDonald said. “But if you had told me I’d have shot a 76, I would’ve taken it. I’m a consistent golfer, so hopefully I can go out there and do the same thing. I think anything in the low 70s will keep you around and give you a shot on the last day.”