Golf: Shelton counting on depth to improve standing
Shelton High tees off for another spring campaign striving to contend for titles.
“Our goal for the 2019 season is to continue to build upon our success from last season,” coach Jeff Napoli said. “Our goal last season was to simply qualify for both the SCC and state tournaments, which we did. Now, this year, we expect to qualify for both tournaments.
“However, our goal is to now perform better and compete to win them. In order to do so, our players need to commit to strengthening their weaknesses and play smarter golf.”
The Gaels went 15-3-1, finished sixth in the Southern Connecticut Conference tourney, and 18th in the state championships.
Shelton lost a trio of golfers to graduation last year, including Mike Davis.
This year’s captains are Colin Brown and Isaiah Merced, who will battle for the fourth and fifth spots.
“Both captains bring a lot of experience to the course and are great leaders for the team,” Napoli said.
Sophomore Kyle St. Pierre, who made All-SCC and All-State teams as a freshman, returns.
St. Pierre also played in the first Connecticut State Open which had the top 24 golfers in the state.
Senior Tim Hafele, a three-year point earner, is expected to garner the number two or three spot in the lineup. “Looking for a big year from him as he has improved greatly,” Napoli said.
Sophomore Ryan Martorella played out of the fourth spot in the lineup last spring.
“He has a very bright future and will also compete for the number two or three spot in the lineup this year,” Napoli said.
The team is excited about freshman Vinny DeFeo, who is competing for time at the third through fifth spots.
“Jake Sullivan has improved a lot and looks to compete for a spot in the lineup in his final season,” Napoli said. “Junior Kevin Platt will also compete for a lineup spot this year and has improved tremendously.
“We are strong up top. With Kyle St. Pierre returning off a phenomenal freshman year, we expect him to lead the way as our number one player. We have a great mix of experienced upperclassmen – Brown, Hafele, Merced — and a very good core of younger players in our sophomore and freshman classes — DeFeo, St. Pierre, Martorella.”
Shelton’s success will hinge, in part, on how the team fares on the road.
“We need to improve on the away courses,” Napoli said. “I have made that a point to the team and have scheduled a lot of challenging away matches for our players to improve in that area.”
Tough teams on the schedule include Notre Dame West Haven, Fairfield Prep and Guilford.
A strong squad in the conference the Gaels don’t face is Xavier of Middletown, which Napoli said has the best player in the state in Chris Fosdick.
“I am very excited for this season,” Napoli said. “Although we lost Mike Davis to graduation, I think our team this year is more experienced than ever and deeper from the top spot to the fifth spot. This depth will help keep us competitive in every match this season and hopefully allow for a more successful postseason.
“The team is fired up and knows we can have a great season. They are all working hard and want to improve individually in order to make us more successful as a team.”
After away matches with Notre Dame-West Haven and Foran High, the Gaels return to the Brownson Country Club course on Wednesday, April 10, to take on Guilford High at 2:45.