MARBLEHEAD — Beat your Northeastern Conference rival for the second time this fall? Check.
Return the annual Tedesco Cup to the halls of Swampscott High and punch your ticket to the MIAA state tournament in the process? Check and check.
All in all, it was quite an eventful Monday afternoon for the Swampscott golf team, who topped Marblehead 41.5-30.5 in match play at Tedesco Country Club for their eighth win of the season. The victory marked the second time in as many tries that the Big Blue beat the Magicians by exactly 11.
“(Marblehead) is obviously a very well coached team and (Marblehead head coach Bob Green) is one of the best. So for us to take two against them I feel is a testament to all the hard work these guys put in in the offseason,” said Swampscott head coach Jason Knowles, his team now 8-3 with four regular season matches remaining.
“I think the biggest thing is seeing the scores dropping throughout the season,” he added. “Our focus from the very beginning was the short game, something that’s easier to control. We’ve spent a lot of time working on our short game and I truly feel like that’s a big strength of ours.”
Using that standout short game to its advantage, Swampscott once again wore down an equally determined Magicians’ squad to claim the Cup, which goes to the winner of this matchup between rivals that play their home matches at Tedesco.
The Big Blue took five of the eight individual matches as Aidan Graciale (6-3), Aidan Tierney (6.5-2.5), Brendan Sheehan (6.5-2.5), Nate Maercklein (5.5-3.5) and Will Roddy (5-4) were all victorious. Top golfer Danny Dilisio halved his match with Marblehead junior captain Ben Weed while Lou Spellios and freshman Matt Weed did the same.
For a Swampscott team that finished third in Division 3 North last season en route to a state final appearance, the success they’ve been able to have a year later with almost an entirely new group speaks volumes. Knowles, however, doesn’t view it as a surprise.
“Honestly, I expected it because when we had our banquet (last fall) you could see how into it they were. Even just seeing these kids and their parents around town during the offseason telling me what they’re doing ... I have a group of kids who just love golf and I’m very fortunate that they do a lot of playing,” said Knowles, who rosters just 12 kids with no JV team.
“When we do our range work there’s not a lot of change, not a lot of work we have to do. Just tweaking little things here and there and not trying to do too much. I’m proud of this group and I think we’ve improved a lot.”
As for Marblehead, which now sits at 5-6 on the year and has an uphill battle ahead if it wants to qualify for the tourney, the Magicians simply lost to the better squad. There were bright spots, however, as none of the individual bouts were blowouts and Jacob Nagel was able to steal his match in the No. 4 slot, 6-3.
“I thought Gavin Lundgren played well, he shot a 41, and Matt Weed also shot a 41 in tying his match,” said Magician coach Green. “Jacob Nagal shot a 44; that’s a good score for him. We’re a young team and most of them haven’t played much golf, obviously the more golf they play the better they’re going to get. We have four very difficult matches coming up, hopefully we can pick off one or two of those and go from there.”
Marblehead finishes up with clashes against defending Division 3 state champion St. Mary’s, Danvers (twice), Beverly, Somerville and Peabody. Three victories down the stretch would send them back to the tournament.
While we’re on the subject of Marblehead golf, quick shout-out to 2019 graduate Brendan Locke, who finished second overall at the recent Northeast-10 Conference Championship. Locke, who plays for St. Michael’s College, fired a 2-under par 70 at the challenging En-Joie Golf Course to match a program record for the best score every by a first-year player.