Men’s golf opened its season against Husson, St. Anselm, Endicott, Bowdoin, Tufts, Bates, USM and Brandeis at the Bowdoin Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. After a third place finish on Saturday, the men rallied to pass Husson and St. Anselm and claim a first place finish in their first tournament of the fall. The men tied with Husson at the end of Sunday’s play, but the Ephs eventually triumphed in a fifth-man tiebreaker.
Jack Ervasti ’13, last season’s GCAA National All-Freshman, led the team on Sunday with a round of 72. Co-captain Jack Killea ’11 supported Ervasti’s efforts with a solid score of 76, while the three remaining scoring players – co-captains Jake Wagner ’11, Drew Murray ’11 and Bob Camp ’11 – all tallied scores of 78 on the day.
“There was definitely more of an overall comfort level on Day Two, and we just straight up played better as a whole,” Murray said when asked about Sunday’s play. “Today we were all about encouragement, supporting each other and focusing on the positive aspects of our rounds.”
Head Coach Rick Pohle agreed with Murray’s sentiments. “I was very pleased with the way [the men] competed on Day Two after a shaky start to the event on Saturday,” he said. “Their experience … supplied the motivation to overcome the teams that were ahead of them after the first day of the event. Everybody stepped up and gave it their best effort: We believed we could play better and simply did what we were capable of doing when it mattered most.”
Saturday’s play saw a strong performance from Camp, who finished at one under par (73). His performance earned him a third place individual finish, the best result for any competing Eph last weekend. Camp’s score was supplemented by scores of 80 from both Ervasti and Murray and scores of 82 and 83 from Wagner and Killea. The men came out in third place on Saturday, with St. Anselm’s and Husson just barely edging Williams out. The Ephs tallied a 315 overall, while their opponents scored 314 and 313, respectively. Camp, Killea, Wagner and Ervasti have proven themselves to be the key players of the Williams squad, thanks to successful and consistent play last fall.
“I think we showed a lot of grit throughout the weekend,” Murray commented. “Everyone had some tough moments but kept on a pretty even keel. It feels good to win the first tournament out, and it’s great for our confidence.”
The Ephs, who graduated no players from last spring, are looking to use the continuity of their squad to build on the successes of last season. While the men fell short of their goal of a trip to NCAAs after being bested by Trinity, a series of strong wins throughout the season point to a successful year ahead. Co-captains Wagner, Killea, Murray and Camp will lead the team, which welcomes five rookies: Jake Abrahams ’14, Cody Semmelrock ’14, Ross Bowen ’14, Dylan Dethier ’14 and Matt McCarron ’14.
Pohle sees this continued leadership on the team as a great asset. “Our seniors are key to our success this year and can set the tone for many years to come with the talent we have in the other classes below them,” Pohle said. “They have the responsibility to lead by example on and off the golf course. I am very confident [that] they will make us a team to be reckoned with all season long.”
“Right now our focus is on next week,” Murray said when asked about the season’s goals. “We feel prepared to defend our titles at the Williams Invite and the NESCAC Tournament. Our biggest goal is to win the NESCAC Championship and put up a good showing at NCAAs in the spring.
“The freshmen are showing tremendous promise, and everyone will get to see what they can do in a couple weeks when we play at home. The talent is there – the key is tapping into it when it counts,” Murray continued.
Agreeing with Murray, Wagner added: “We are pleased with [last weekend’s] win, but we have a lot of work to do before we’ll be ready for NESCACs. We look to carry this momentum into next weekend at Middlebury.”
Pohle agreed that a tournament by tournament mindset is crucial: building up these successes over the course of the season will make Willams a powerful force by the time postseason begins in October. The NESCAC Qualifier will be held at Trinity over the weekend of Oct. 2, while NESCAC Match Play will take place Oct. 16-17.
“Our goal is to be in every event we compete in with a chance to win or finish very high in the standings,” Pohle said. From the coach’s point of view, every player keeping the team in mind throughout play is critical to achieving this goal. “As a team, we need to give our best individual effort every round and realize that four other players are counting on your contribution to the team success.”
Williams will next compete at the Duke Nelson Invitational in Middlebury, Vt., this coming weekend. Following that competition, the men will prepare to host a number of their top competitors at the Williams Invitational on Sept. 25-26. That tournament will be their last chance to compete before the NESCAC Qualifier.