Greenwich High sophomore Alexandra Sazhin had no idea Monday's opponent, Staples, was undefeated until she got to the fifth hole.
Thanks to another outstanding performance by Sazhin and her teammates, the Cardinals are now the lone team in the FCIAC that can stake a claim to an unblemished record.
Home-course advantage ruled the day as Greenwich edged Staples 177-188 on Monday afternoon at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course. The win improved the Cardinals' record to 8-0, while Staples dropped to 5-1.
"I'm thrilled; it was the battle of the unbeatens," Greenwich coach Marie Shimchick said. "I didn't want to put any kind of pressure because the best way to play your golf is relaxed. They've been looking forward to this match. It's always good to be challenged by someone and (Staples) has turned in some good scores, so it keeps us on our toes."
The defending FCIAC champions got the best of last year's runner-up again in Greenwich. The margin of victory proved to be at top two spots, where Greenwich's Catherine McEvoy (39) and Sazhin (41) out-dueled Staples' Faith Garcia (41) and Mary Bennewitz (50).
"Both last year and this year we've had two really strong players at No. 1 and No. 2," Sazhin said. "Last year with Brooke (Nethercott) and this year with me and (McEvoy); both of us usually shoot under 43, but our whole team is strong."
The Cardinals were in the friendly confines of the Griff, where Sazhin plays every weekend. Figuring out how to work around the nuances of the course can have a significant impact on the final score, she noted.
"The Griff is a course where you have to know where you are going," Sazhin said. "The course has little things you don't see. It's fun to play and it gives you a lot of confidence because (McEvoy) and I have played a lot. So when we come here we know this, and most teams don't know as much."
The Cardinals have posted solid numbers all season, including seting a team record (165) last contest against Ridgefield.
McEvoy drew a tough challenger in Garcia, who transferred to Staples this year from Trinity Catholic and is a Division-I talent.
"I think (it was pressure) because (Garcia) is really strong," McEvoy said. "Their whole team is strong for the spots they play. I just wanted to play my best against the course."
The two teams meet again on May 9th at Staples' Longshore Golf Course and coach Bob Byiteck believes his Wreckers can pose a significant challenge to the Cardinals when the squads face off. Staples defeated the Cardinals 181-189 a year ago at Longshore.
"We didn't play very well," Byiteck said. "A few of the girls did not have their best day. I'm confident we'll give Greenwich a better game when they come to Longshore next week."
"That will be our true test," she said.
The victory was the narrowest for the Cardinals this year, but the 177 was also the Cardinals' lowest score. Led by a freshman (McEvoy) and sophomore (Sazhin), Greenwich figures to get better as the season progresses.
"We've just been consistent," Shimchick said. "Looking at their scores, when we've had all five of our starting lineup, they've been really consistent with their scores. There hasn't been any blow-ups. There is always room for improvement. They are working hard individually and as a group."
For Staples, Anelise Brown carded a 47.
Ryan Lacey is a freelance writer
Greenwich 177, Staples 188 (at Griffith E. Harris GC, par 36): S -- Faith Garcia 41, Anelise Brown 47, Mary Bennewitz 50, Erica Stein 50. G -- Catherine McEvoy 39, Alexandra Sazhin 41, Amalie Young 47, Kendyl Nethercott 50. Records: Staples 5-1, 5-1 FCIAC; Greenwich 8-0, 7-0.