Greenwich’s boys golf team captured three FCIAC championships and two state titles from 2017 to 2019, but the faces on the squad have changed since its dominant 2019 season. Now a new group of players are more than eager to make their mark.
Players such as Jackson Fretty, Billy Nail and Ben Ropiak, all of whom formed the nucleus of the Cardinals’ talented title teams, graduated two years ago and since the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenwich’s 2021 squad has a new look.
“The first match we played, not one kid had varsity experience, which was a first for me in 22 years of coaching,” Greenwich coach Jeff Santilli said. “The dynamic of this team is that it is very young and talented and by the time we get to the end of the season there is a good possibility of our team making a run for the championships.”
The Cardinals, whose varsity lineup includes one sophomore, two juniors, a freshman and two seniors, have certainly started the season in impressive fashion. Tuesday, Greenwich won its third straight match to start the season, outshooting FCIAC foe Brien McMahon, 152-190, at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course.
Sophomore Charles Schrohe earned medalist honors for the third straight match for Greenwich, shooting an even-par 35 over nine holes on Tuesday. Like all his teammates, Schrohe is in his first varsity season with the squad.
“It feels good to be on the varsity team,” Schrohe said. “It’s a whole new team, no one has played varsity before, so we are all going through the same thing.”
Schrohe has played at the No. 1 spot for the Cardinals. Paul Buellesbach carded a 42 for McMahon at No. 1 Tuesday.
“My best hole was No. 3, I hit a pretty good drive and had a 5-iron in and stuck it to 15 feet for eagle,” Schrohe said. ” I missed the putt, but I still birdied.”
Besides striking the ball well, Schrohe’s short game was solid at The Griff.
“Putting was my strength, I had a lot of good putts today and that’s what gave me the good round,” Schrohe said. “I’ve had pretty good rounds so far.”
Luke Scanlan, a Greenwich junior, finished with a 5-over-par 40 at the No. 2 position. Peter Buellesbach of McMahon posted a 44.
“Out of the gate, I started off rough with a double, double, but bounced back and birdied 9, which was a nice way to finish,” Scanlan said. “It’s a nice course, it’s fun to play here. Since we practice here, it’s nice to play here in matches.”
Scanlan is looking forward to the challenges ahead of he and the team the remainder of the spring.
“There are matches that I’m very excited to play in coming up,” Scanlan said. “The team goals are to try and win states and FCIACs for coach again.”
At No. 3, Cardinals junior JT Spadone shot a 2-over-par 37. McMahon’s Jack Kolman finished with a 50. Spadone was on the junior varsity team in 2019.
“The 2019 team was one of the best teams Greenwich ever had,” Spadone said. “It’s nice being the team to look out for. We hope to play well and make a good showing at states. We’re on a good team, so we have a legacy to hold up.”
Freshman Owen Duda carded a 40 to also pace Greenwich at No. 4. Duda, who plays out of Round Hill Club, is enjoying his first varsity season.
“It’s really cool to play with players who are experienced,” Duda said. “It helps make you better. It’s also cool to play different courses throughout the season.”
Duda finished his round in fine fashion.
“Today’s round was decent, I struck the ball really well,” he said. “I got a birdie on No. 8. and I ended up shooting a 40.”
William Grimes, a senior, registered a round of 42 at the fifth spot, while senior Matias Lew shot a 39 at No. 6 for the Cards. Lew has also played matches at No. 5.
Grimes wrestled his first three years at Greenwich, but shifted his focus to golf, since the pandemic forced the cancellation of the wrestling season this past winter.
“I’ve been playing golf whenever I can,” Grimes said. “I tried to go to the range at Sterling Farms and I’ve been playing every day, since there is no wrestling. Golf has been perfect for me for the last six months.”
Grimes sees a lot of upside on the squad.
“I think this season is going to be good and we have until the end of May to get our game up to what it should be,” he said.
Said Santilli: “Luke was solid his freshman year on JV and so was JT. And Charles has been a nice addition as a sophomore. Matias and William battling for one of the spots, are both seniors with a lot of potential and Owen is a solid ball-striker as a freshman. On a good day, we can all shoot around par.”
Greenwich hosts Westhill at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course on Thursday, then travels to Richter Park to play Danbury on Monday.
“We definitely have some work to do – like working on our short game, chipping and putting,” Santilli said. “I’m confident that we can get a little bit better in another month.”
Said Duda: “We can all build together and help each other. We can grow as a team and we can build our own legacy together.”
On the junior varsity golf scene, Jack Hopper of Greenwich shot a 42 against Darien, while Drew Stamos carded a 45. Teddy Walsh posted a 46 and Brandon Yu shot a 47 for the Cardinals, as did Dylan Harris. Gus Benson finished with a 48.
“It was a solid overall performance by all the JV players and in the last group, Brandon Yu got up and down on the ninth hole to tie the match for the Cardinals,” Santilli said.