Golfers hope to win with new blood
The Staples boys golf team is hoping to rebound from last year's disappointing season.
Although Staples was 17-1 during the regular season, finished second at FCIACs and tied for third in the Division I championships, it wasn't pleased with its season because it fell short of expectations.
Going into the 2011 year, the Wreckers were the two-time Division I champs and defending FCIAC champions. Moreover, Staples had its strongest team on paper. However, titles are won on the links, not on paper, and the cliche, "on any given day" held through for the Wreckers last spring.
Despite losing Andrew Gai, Kirk Massie, Brian Wolgast and Conor Mahoney to graduation, Staples feels good about the season. Having senior captains Austin Alianiello and Sam Shaffer lead the way also helps this year's team.
"I'm really excited with the kids we have," Wreckers coach Tom Owen said. "We have the best leadership we had in years. Austin and Sam are taking the bull by the horns and are working well with the younger kids. We don't have the talent we had last year, but we're still talented."
Staples especially misses Gai and Massie. Gai won the Holohan title, which goes to the top individual golfer in the FCIAC, last year. He started to play golf for Campbell University but quit to become a golf pro. Massie was solid and is golfing for Lafayette College.
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"Last year is behind us, and the captains are doing what they can to turn it around," Owen said. "They can play, and they both have experience playing on championship teams."
Alianiello has played varsity since freshman year and has especially been a top contributor the last two. He's slated to be the team's No. 1 golfer. Shaffer is No. 2 this year after seeing limited action sophomore year and rotating into the lineup with Wolgast and Mahoney last year.
"I'm very hopeful about the season and things are looking up," Alianiello said. "Last year, we had talent, but we didn't work as a team. Everyone worked hard but not together. The team dynamic wasn't there. Sam and I are trying to establish more of a brotherhood. We don't expect to win anything, but we hope to put it together as a team and give it our all."
Junior Stephen Colodny played in a few varsity matches last year and is No. 3 in the lineup. Colodny worked on his game all winter and has been shooting par during the preseason.
"Stephen will have a super year," Owen said. "He's playing well."
Owen hasn't decided on who will play in the fourth and fifth slots and plans on rotating guys in the beginning of the year. Juniors Devon Lowman, Ross Whelan, Liam O'Leary and Jacob Meisel along with freshman Peter Richards are in the mix.
"They are phenomenal kids and some of the best I ever had," Owen said. "They act well, and the chemistry is good this year."
Although Staples would relish the opportunity to win, it's primary concern is showing good sportsmanship and improved camaraderie.
"We hope to go for broke," Alianiello said. "If our team plays our best, we have a great chance to beat everyone. Sam and I want to start a tradition of Staples being a well-mannered team and well-behaved. We're not as good as some teams in the league, but because we work well together, I'm optimistic about the year."