Through nine matches this fall, the St. John's Prep golf team had yet to come out on the losing side.
The Eagles got many of their wins in dominant fashion, too, using their depth to outlast a number of talented teams in the ever-competitive Catholic Conference.
But when it came time for the conference's league championship bout, held at Worcester Country Club on Monday afternoon, St. John's didn't have the same luxury of utilizing their entire lineup. Instead of six of the top eight scores being counted towards a cumulative team total, just the top four scores were taken. On top of that, the CC championship calls for 18 holes of golf rather than nine, making things even more difficult.
Excuses aside, the Eagles went out and played some tremendous golf. They wound up finishing in third place overall with 310 team strokes, trailing only first place Xaverian at 299 and second place St. John's Shrewsbury at 302.
"I think right now this is the best conference in the state (for golf)," said Eagles' head coach Joe Rocha. "You could say that three out of the top five teams in the state are in our conference; I don't think that would be a stretch. So you have to hand it to (Xaverian); they played extremely well. We're just happy to be out playing under the circumstances and it was a win win all the way around."
Leading the charge for SJP and contributing to the final team tally was Alex Landry, who came in with a team-best 75 (tied for 4th overall). Rocha wasn't surprised by Landry's output — "he's a real high level player who can compete with the best in the state."
Emmett Phelan and Aidan LeBlanc were next in the pecking order, firing a pair of smooth 78s, while Ian Rourke and Terry Manning also managed to break 80 with a pair of 79s. The former duo has factored into the team scoring time and time again this season, while the latter two continue to improve and impress as the year has gone on.
"Terry's a freshman and he's been an excellent player for us all year; he's great," said Rocha. "And then Ian who's a sophomore has been very steady as well. They're both very reliable players, have good golf swings, good short games, good mental ... they really have the whole package; no weaknesses."
It's hard to believe that the Eagles could get five players to score under 80 on an unfamiliar and challenging course and still finish in third place, but those are the breaks when you play in the CC. Xaverian had one player shoot 71 and another 73, making it hard for the talented Prep squad to make up the necessary ground needed to come out on top.
Still, it was an unforgettable day in an age where we don't always have things to look forward to, and Rocha and Co. couldn't have been happier with how things unfolded.
"We're just really fortunate to have a season ending tournament like this. It's a nice consolation with the state tournament not being held this year," said Rocha. "Not to mention it was such a great golf course. So really a memorable event for everyone involved."
St. John's wraps up the regular season with a make up match against Malden Catholic on Friday at Mount Hood. Heading into that match, leading scorers (per nine holes) for the Eagles include LeBlanc (35.78), Phelan (37.78), Brandon Farrin (38), Landry (38.56); Manning (38.56), Rourke (38.63), Connor Remley (39.22), Brendan O'Holloran (39.67) and Blake Buonopane (39.89).