New Canaan boys golf team aims high with veteran leaders
Updated 3:55 pm, Monday, April 15, 2013
Most people consider golf an individual sport.
For the New Canaan boys golf team, though, it is clearly a team sport. The sense of camaraderie that pervades each practice and match may be the secret ingredient that has led to such a winning program.
"We're so focused on how we are doing as a team; that way we keep each other in it," Slattery said. "We kind of pick each other up."
Swift added, "Our strength is we motivate each other to beat each other."
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Whatever the reason, the Rams have had remarkable success in the past decade, bringing home three FCIAC crowns and eight state titles.
While the Rams posted an impressive 16-2 record in the 2012 campaign, the final match still stings. In the state championship match New Canaan lost by one stroke to Daniel Hand High School. The win would have given the Rams their fourth consecutive State championship, and returning home with "runner up" status wasn't easy.
"That was a quiet bus ride home," Essigs said. The Rams finished fourth in the FCIAC tournament last year.
"The loss to Daniel Hand has really motivated us for the upcoming season," said head coach Bill Brown, who begins his 14th season at the helm and continues to set a positive tone for the team. "Everyone practiced hard over the winter, and we really want to secure that state championship this year."
To get the job done, Essigs will play in the No. one spot, while Swift and Slattery will likely rotate in the two and three slots. Essigs said that the three of them expect to consistently shoot under 40.
"We know we're capable of shooting even par," he said.
Also in the mix, the team will look to players like senior Tyler Sands, who will be playing golf at St. Lawrence University next year, sophomores Chris Tohir and Kyle Finnican, or freshman Justin Clark, who Brown describes as the "real deal."
One of the key losses from last year was the team's captain Ben Katz, who was the only Ram to receive All-FCIAC first team honors in 2012.
"Ben Katz was a loss and Connor Miller as well," Brown said, "But with our senior leadership and the other young kids we have coming up, we are looking to maintain the success we had."
The team feels that a Division II State Championship is a realistic goal for 2013. And while every FCIAC match-up will be competitive, the Rams particularly look to avenge their two regular season losses from last year to Ridgefield and Greenwich. The Greenwich Cardinals are the reigning FCIAC and Division I State champions.
"There will be a few matches where we really have to bring our `A' game," Essigs said. "Greenwich will definitely be a tough match, but every time we tee up I know that we can win."