Senior class driving Staples boys golf team ahead
Updated 12:11 pm, Thursday, May 14, 2015
With two straight losses to open the season, the Staples boys golf team did not get off to the start it is accustomed to. A 30-4-2 record over the past two seasons had the Wreckers believing they could once again compete for an FCIAC championship.
The Wreckers haven't looked back since a close defeat to Trumbull April 22, and the team is currently riding a nine-match winning streak. The mercury rising this spring has coincided with a drop in scores -- Staples has fired a team score of less than 160 in six straight rounds prior to Wednesday's match against Warde.
"We got off to a slow start with two losses off the bat," Staples coach Tom Owen said. "I would like to blame the weather, but all the teams had to play in the same weather. We are playing better now; we beat New Canaan last week, which is a big win for us."
The win over the Rams last Thursday was the first in a series of tests Staples will face in the second half of the season. Three-time defending champion Greenwich hosts the Wreckers on Monday, and Staples will face undefeated Ridgefield the next day.
Staples is led by a three-headed monster capable of firing low scores, and came within one stroke of one another in the win over New Canaan.
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Lafayette-bound Peter Richards placed third overall last year at the FCIAC championships and is one of the top golfers in the state again this year. Richards, like many of his teammates, has made Longshore his home over the last several seasons.
"I've been trying to manage my game better and play more maturely," Richards said. "And do things in a more efficient in away to be a well-rounded player and better teammate."
Fellow senior Stephen Gai has developed into a threat capable of being the lowest scorer on the roster. Gai, a four-year starter, scored a 33 in a win over St. Joseph earlier this season.
"Stephen is a free-swinger, he likes to hit the ball long," Owen said. "His short game has gotten much better, as has his ability to focus. I think that's where he's improved a lot."
Junior Dan Cozzi has been a pleasant surprise to Owen and the Wreckers, consistently delivering scores in the low 40s.
"I didn't really expect Dan to be in the hunt this year," Owen said. "He went out after the season last year and worked on his game, played a lot of tournaments, got a lot of lessons; he's really risen to the occasion."
"We have a solid three guys who are all playing well and consistently shooting 3-over (par) or better," Richards said. "We have a bunch of good supporting guys that are playing well; the chemistry is good."
Time will tell whether or not Staples will be atop the FCIAC mountain come June, but the Wreckers are confident. The FCIAC championships are scheduled for June 3 at Fairchild Wheeler in Fairfield. Staples last won the title in 2010.
"It would mean a lot to me, but it would mean more for the coaches because they've been here for a while and our performance hasn't really reflected how good of coaches they are," Richards said.