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Staples golfers remain undefeated

Varsity - 2010 Season
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 by Connecticut Post

The Staples boys golf team hasn't missed a beat from last year.

Staples is the defending Division I champion and when it faced another state champion on May 5 at Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford, it showed it was poised to make another title run. The Wreckers posted a 144, their best score of the season and defeated defending Division IV champion Trinity Catholic by 14 strokes.

When the Wreckers stepped on the greens, there was no visible sign they had captured the Division I crown last season.

"We're really quiet about our success," Staples senior captain Dylan Murray said. "We just want to play good golf and have a good time out there."

"No one individual from last year has anything to commemorate our state championship," added junior captain Kirk Massie. "There's something to be said that if you think about the past you're not going to focus on what you're doing right now."

Those words form a sweet symphony to the ears of Staples Coach Tom Owen, whose team has started its current campaign with an 21-0 record in match play heading into yesterday's match at Fairfield Prep after press time.

Owen has been preaching a message of humility and a hunger for more success to his team from the first day of practice. What Owen did not account for, though, was how his young squad would play the roles of seasoned veterans when it came to shot selection and overall play -- more so than last year's state championship club that was perhaps laden with more raw talent.

"For a relatively young team these kids are really mature in terms of how they're dealing with being the team to beat," Owen said.

"The kids aren't throwing up huge numbers, like taking a double or triple bogey on a hole. They're mature enough to realize `Hey, it's better I play it a little safer here and only possibly get a bogey versus just trying to go for that one-in-a-million shot and end up putting a big number up."

The Wreckers came into the season with three stalwarts in Murray (who leads the team with a stroke average of 37.62), Massie (38.12) and sophomore Austin Alianiello (37.88) and two question marks sitting in the other slots. The answers have been a three-man rotation of juniors Brian Wolgast (40.83) and Conor Mahoney (39.66) and sophomore Sam Shafer (40.83). Together, the six golfers have combined for a stroke average of 39.16.

Owen first realized his team had something special after a victory New Canaan by 12 strokes with a score of 150 on April 27. During the match, Massie recorded a season low 34 (1-under par).

"That was kind of turning point, like OK `We really do have a pretty good legit team here.' We hadn't been tested until then. It gave us a lot of confidence," Owen said.

Murray labeled the match against Trinity Catholic as the top highlight so far because of the chemistry his team showed. On the day, he shot a season-low 34.

As the team captains, Murray and Massie have made it a point of giving advice and encouragement to the underclassmen during any moments of down time.

"I gather them in and I just try to take the pressure off everyone,"

Murray said. "I try to give them some of words of wisdom, just tell them to have fun out there. They're going to play their best when they're relaxed."

Such a mentality might not work as well on May 25 when Staples hosts Greenwich, the favorite to win both the FCIAC tournament and the Division I state championship. Both teams could very well be undefeated going into the match.

"They're hungry for us and we've just got to have that same mindset,"

Murray said of the team that Staples has defeated during the last two regular season matches between the two schools.

The Wreckers will also have to have the same level of commitment as last year's team. Murray and Massie both made note of the all distractions that can come with finishing a sport at the end of the high school calendar.

"It's that time of year where there's other temptations other than working on your game, so we need to forget about our record, forget about our past and just keep doing to what got us to where we are,"

Murray said. "I think that's what it takes: Whoever works the hardest is going to do the best."

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