WESTPORT — Despite a slow start to the regular season it’s probably a good bet the Westport High School golf team will improve as the season matures. Hopefully the squad can duplicate the storybook ending to last year’s season.
This year’s team slipped to 2-5 overall when it lost to Bristol-Plymouth for the second time in four days, this time at Acoaxet Golf Club Monday. But as the returning players from last year’s team know, the best may be yet to come.
After finishing the Mayflower Small Division season with a 5-5 record and with an overall mark of 5-11 a year ago, the Wildcats stunned familiar foes when it placed fourth among a dozen foursomes which competed in the Mayflower League Championship.
“We finished real strong in the Mayflower League Tournament,” Westport coach Gus Cariglia said. “We surprised ourselves. We may do well there again.”
The reason for Cariglia’s optimism is that the league tournament compiles team scores based on the individual scores of its top four players. Westport has three of the players who vied in last year’s league tournament back on this year’s squad.
“Jake Friar, he’s a good player. He’s our No. 1,” Cariglia said. “He averaged 40 last year. Nick Rosa is No. 2, he’s solid. Matt Murphy, he’s a junior, he’s No. 3 and Jake Gerard, another junior, is playing No. 4. Those four guys are pretty solid.”
Fletch Ferreira, who played football last year, Ron Haines, Mitch Leary, Dave Leite and Joe Madeira round out this year’s team. Most of them are still getting acquainted with the game and the courses on which the Wildcats play.
“ We’ve got a couple new kids but they haven’t golfed a lot,” said Cariglia. “While the first four are pretty solid, five and six are kind of beginners.
“I was hoping we’d be able to get some kids who’ve had some golfing experience to fill five and six then we could have been even better. There were a couple kids floating around school who had a little experience but didn’t want to play.”
Even those who could play opted to do things other than pick up the sticks and hit the ball around during summer recess.
“Some of the kids were able to play at Montaup this summer,” said Cariglia. “They got memberships but they didn’t play a lot like they could have. They didn’t play enough rounds.”
That’s probably a reason the team is off to a slow start. Westport has beaten Upper Cape Cod Regional High School and Sacred Heart while losing twice to Bristol-Plymouth and Durfee and once to Diman Regional Vocational. But despite the lack of summer golf, the regulars have bettered their games throughout the seasons.
“I have seen improvement just being a year older, Cariglia said. “It’s amazing to see when they’re freshmen, not being able to hit the ball that far. And each year they progress. The top four are each hitting the ball further than they did last year and more accurately. So there is definitely improvement.”
Westport may put itself in the same position as a year ago when it won as many as it lost in the regular season and then surprised in the tournament. Not only will the top four need to continue improving but so too will the rest of the players if the ‘Cats are to approach an even record or better.
“ I think we’ll be above .500 in the league,” said Cariglia. “If we had a couple more players with a little more experience we probably would be better.”
The regular season will fly by with Westport set to play its final nine matches in a 20-day span ending Tuesday, Oct. 16. Two days later, on a school day in the morning, Westport will travel to Acushnet River Valley Golf Course to see if it can once again shock the opposition in the Mayflower League Tournament.
The Westport players certainly will be fired up for the event to see if they can better last year’s finish but also because, as Rosa said at last year’s tourney match, “It’s really nice getting out of school to play 18 holes of golf.”