Lady Wrecker golfers confidently head into tough matches
Updated 2:38 am, Wednesday, May 11, 2011
So far so good for the Staples girls golf team, winners of six of its first nine matches heading into today's home match with Greenwich.
But, before the Lady Wreckers start penciling in their postseason plans, they have a lot to do to get there.
"It's a good start. We have some really competitive matches coming up in the next few weeks," Staples Coach Bob Byiteck said. "We're going to have to play better than we've been playing -- against better competition."
The Lady Wreckers have earned wins in each of their handful of home matches at Longshore Country Club, defeating Fairfield Ludlowe, Bunnell of Stratford, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Danbury. They are 1-3 away from home, losing at Trumbull, Darien and Fairfield Warde. Staples' only road win came against Ludlowe.
Byiteck believes it will take something like a 12-6 record, when all is said and done, to qualify for the FCIAC Tournament as one of the four top FCIAC squads.
"I'm optimistic but we need to continue to work harder and beat the teams that are competitive with us," Byiteck said. "They all have to play well. If two girls have a bad day, you don't win."
Staples has, in fact, already faced -- and defeated -- some of the toughest FCIAC rivals on the slate, including New Canaan, Ridgefield and Danbury. But the team will have to find a way to defeat them again in rematches on their home courses. "Lack of familiarity," with the road courses presents a big hurdle for Byiteck's young lineup to overcome, the coach said. "Our course is flat, it's not long -- and they're comfortable there."
Some of the road courses have hill, water traps and more trees than the Wreckers are accustomed to dealing with at Longshore. The rough course was also a challenge at Darien's Wee Burn Country Club, Byiteck said. "It was very difficult for us," he added.
One course obstacle junior tri-captain Kim Hynes points out the Wreckers are comfortable with is the bunker. "Having traps all over the place at Longshore does make us better because we're hitting balls out of the sand all the time," she said.
Coming off a seven-stroke loss to Darien, the Wreckers topped visiting Danbury by five on May 3. "Our coach is keeping us very motivated. We had a comeback and beat Danbury," junior tri-captain Eliza Duvall said.
The teams will meet again, in the Hat City, on May 19. "That will be very, very close up there at Richter Park [Golf Courses]," Byiteck said. "It's a whole different world, up there, from what we play."
The Wreckers don't have a senior in the lineup, but leadership has been provided by the trio of junior captains, which includes Sarah Ressler. Sophomore Erica Stein and freshman Christie Cantor round out the top five. The top four scorers' totals count toward the team score from match to match, and "all five of them have contributed in different ways in each match," Byiteck said.
Cantor, despite being a first-year high schooler, has had plenty of early success, earning medalist honors once already. "Christie has just been a wonderful addition," the coach said.
Byiteck has been impressed with the work ethic of his golfers, and said they practice hard and make up a truly enjoyable group to be around on the course. "They're a very committed team, a very dedicated team, and a very hard-working team," he said.
"I'm really proud of the team. We're doing a lot better than I thought we'd do," said Hynes, adding that she is hopeful that the momentum will keep up. "It's going to be a tough battle with the hard teams we have to play."
Warde, Greenwich, Trumbull, Darien, New Canaan, Danbury and Ridgefield are all conference playoff contenders, Byiteck believes.
Following today's match with Greenwich, the Lady Wreckers will go to the Country Club of New Canaan to take on the hosts, as well as Ridgefield. Any one of these teams, potentially, could stand between Staples and an FCIAC playoff spot.
"Everyone's in it," Byiteck said. "We have a great chance and I believe we'll make it."