Men’s golf paces field at NESCAC tourney, set to host spring qualifier

Men’s golf impressed in its biggest tournament of the fall, beating nine conference foes to claim the NESCAC title at the NESCAC qualifier hosted by Wesleyan this Saturday and Sunday. The men built an eight-shot lead over Trinity with a Day One tally of 290 on Saturday. The Ephs held on to first with a 296 on Sunday, fending off the charging Bantams. The two-day total of 586 was the lowest score posted in recent Williams history, but on a weekend ripe with low scores, the men topped Trinity by only two strokes.

The win at the NESCAC tournament, the Ephs’ first tournament victory of the season, earned them the right to host the NCAA qualifier at the Taconic Golf Club in the spring. The top four teams of the weekend qualify, and the winner of the NESCAC automatically qualifies for the Div. III NCAA Championship. Joining Williams at the spring tournament will be Trinity (588), Middlebury (594) and Hamilton (600).

Several days’ worth of rain left Wesleyan’s home course, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, in soggy condition, and the greens were particularly soft and receptive to low scoring. The Ephs’ combined total of 290 on Day One was their lowest-scoring round of the season and a testament to the consistency that has been the hallmark of the team’s success this fall.

On Day One, Matt McCarron ’14 birdied two of his last three holes to cap off a one-under-par 71, tied for third-best overall on the day. Cody Semmelrock ’14 made one bogie, one birdie and 16 pars on the day, finishing with a steady 72. Dylan Dethier ’14 and Ross Bowen ’14 rounded out the men’s scoring with totals of 73 and 74, respectively.

As the tournament accepts only four scorers out of five for each team on each day of the tournament, a solid 75 from Jake Goldenring ’15 on Day One did not count toward the men’s combined 296, but was a sign of the team’s depth. The rookie made just one bogie and birdied the third and 12th holes en route to a final round 71 on Day Two.

Bowen, playing just behind Goldenring, continued a steady season with a 75 on Day Two. Dethier finished next and birdied the 18th hole to post a 74, and Semmelrock carded a 77 behind him. The men narrowly evaded Trinity, as Nick Buenaventura and Jack Palley shot a 69 and a 71, respectively, to put the Bantams in striking distance. With the final group on the 18th hole, Trinity was just a chip-in away from tying the men.

McCarron made a clutch par to finish with a 76, nudging the Ephs two strokes ahead of the Bantams. McCarron’s par on his final hole gave the men the final edge they needed, as they posted a 296 on Sunday. Trinity’s Day Two total of 290 gave them a 588 for the weekend, just two strokes off the men.

“We got a very steady performance by our entire team to hold on to first place,” Head Coach Rick Pohle said after Sunday’s round. “It didn’t quite match up to Saturday’s performance, but it is awfully difficult to play well after a great round, physically and emotionally. Also, playing with the lead is another element we have not had the privilege of experiencing; I would have to say that we passed this test as well.”

The steady performance resulted in a number of individual honors for the Ephs. Goldenring, with a two-day 146, tied for fourth to earn First Team All-NESCAC honors. “Jake Goldenring had a great tournament for us,” Pohle said. “He has helped stabilize our scoring all fall.”

“It’s been exciting to come in and contribute as a freshman,” Goldenring said after his round, although he acknowledged that he leaves his class year behind when he steps up to the tee. “We only have five guys out there, so everyone has to contribute. Any one of us could go low on a given day, and it was my turn to step up.”

McCarron and Dethier, one stroke back of their rookie teammate, tied for sixth and also earned All-NESCAC honors. “Both Dylan Dethier and Matt McCarron had great efforts, posting 147 over the two days,” Pohle said. “[Dethier] has fared well in the top spot of our line-up all fall, and I am especially pleased for [McCarron] – he obviously thrives on competition and enjoys the challenge.” Bowen and Semmelrock finished in a tie for 12th in the 50-player field.

“Qualifying was our ultimate goal, which we accomplished, and hosting the finals in the spring is a bonus,” Pohle said. “Being positive is most important under adversity, and I think this weekend will benefit us further down the road.”

Pohle earned NESCAC Coach of the Year honors after the young team’s success this weekend.

The men will continue their fall season at the Hamilton Invitational on Oct. 8 and 9.

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