By KEVIN ROBERTS
It was a big, busy week for Southington boys golf. The Blue Knights faced strong foes left and right in a four-day span, and they emerged with three wins and a tie.
“It’s been a good roll. The kids are grinding. They’re playing hard, and they’re trying to make the right decisions all the time,” coach Jim DiNello said after a win over Conard on May 8. “That’s all you can ask for as a coach, that they try to make the right decisions and they’re grinding.”
Southington started its week with a 168-179 non-conference win over Cheshire on May 6 at the Farms Country Club in Wallingford. On May 7, the Knights avenged an earlier loss to NW Catholic and beat the Lions 155-177 at Hawk’s Landing Country Club. Southington defeated Conard 149-162 on May 8 at Hawk’s Landing, then it tied Avon, 161-161, on May 9 at Blue Fox Run in Avon.
The Knights are 8-2-1, 6-2-1 in the CCC West Division. Here’s what happened in each match last week:
McKnerney sets pace
MAY 6—Shawn McKnerney was the lone player to shoot under 40, and his medalist round of 39 led the way for the Knights in their victory over the Rams.
Austin Carta shot a 42, Jake Napoli came in at 43, and Cory Hemsen carded a 44 for Southington. Justin Grove led Cheshire with a 43.
Lions take a licking
MAY 7—There was a 27-stroke difference between the first and second meetings of the Knights and Lions.
NW Catholic took the first matchup, 160-165, on April 23 in West Hartford. Southington won handily in the rematch at Hawk’s Landing, 155-177. McKnerney and Napoli shared medalist honors with three-over-par rounds of 38. Carta put up a 39 and Colby Zegzdryn had a 40.
Jack McDermott led NW Catholic with a 41.
Solid win over Conard
MAY 8—McKnerney earned medalist honors for the third time in three days, this time with a one-under-par 34.
Max Chubet shot a 37, Carta carded a 38 and Napoli had a 40 for Southington.
“Shawn has been playing well,” DiNello said. “Max wasn’t happy with his round yesterday, but he had a better day today. Austin has been consistent, and Jake said he didn’t play well, but he still found a way to post a 40.”
DiNello saw the score posted by Napoli as a good thing.
“Any time you get the guys hitting the ball and saying they’re not really happy but they’re finding a way to score, that’s a good thing,” DiNello said. “Do I think we’re at peak, playing our best as a team? Absolutely not, but the good news is we’ve got three matches in this week, won all three of them, and we’ve got a great opportunity to go play against a really good Avon team at their place and see where we stand.”
A tie against Avon
MAY 9—The Knights and Falcons couldn’t break a deadlock and wound up tied at Blue Fox Run.
Chubet went the lowest for Southington with an even-par 36, which earned him medalist honors. Hemsen shot a 40, Napoli carded a 42, and Carta added a 43.
“Max’s round was outstanding and Cory’s 40 in the five-spot saved us from a defeat,” DiNello said.
Michael Hanratty led Avon with a two-over-par 38. The Falcons got a 40 from Colin Barrett and a 41 from Cole Hahn. Drew Abbott and Dan Cuyler each shot a 42. DiNello said that a tie on the road against Avon was a good day.
“I know the guys felt like someone could’ve saved one stroke somewhere, but there are always a few like that,” DiNello said. “I’m sure we got a few that we maybe shouldn’t have, so it evens out.”
Up next: Southington’s strong schedule was slated to continue Wednesday with a road match against Hall at Rockledge Golf Club in West Hartford. On Thursday, the Knights were scheduled to play Farmington and Simsbury at Simsbury Farms Country Club. Southington sees Simsbury again on May 22 at Hawk’s Landing after a May 20 home matchup against Plainville.
“Basically, we control our own destiny right now. Our next three conference matches are going to be pressure-packed with a bunch of teams playing for a championship,” DiNello said. “Two of those are on the road. We will need to be really good one through five to win them. We need to win and have some help. This conference is brutally competitive, but that makes it fun.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com