As the results indicated in its match against formidable Fairfield Ludlowe, Greenwich High School’s girls golf team is making its mark in a conference loaded with challenging opponents and it’s doing so while being one of the younger squads in the FCIAC.
“A lot of our starters have very little match or tournament experience,” Greenwich second-year coach Taner Karakas said. “We are a young team. The goals and expectations are to be consistent and be competitive with matches and just learn as much as possible this season, because we are going to look to expand our roster next year and continue to be more and more competitive in our Division and conference.”
Following Thursday’s 196-210 win against Fairfield Ludlowe at Millbrook Country Club in Greenwich, the Cardinals sport a record of 3-2 with seven matches still remaining on its schedule. Entering its matchup against Ludlowe, Greenwich was ranked sixth out of 25 team in Division I of the CIAC.
The top five-teams in the FCIAC qualify for the conference tournament. The teams ranked among the top-15 Division I will qualify to compete in the state tournament.
“One of our goals as a team is to make the FCIAC Tournament,” said Sarah Peng, who embraces her role as a senior co-captain.
“I just try to keep everyone organized,” Peng said. Some of our starters are freshman so you have to keep them positive, especially because of how much pressure they have being our starters as freshmen. Also, being one of the only returners, it’s important to keep the traditions we had before.”
Greenwich is certainly one of the teams that’s had a winning tradition in the FCIAC and state. In 2019, the Cardinals were the runner-up to New Canaan in the team standings at the CIAC State Tournament. During a four-season span from 2012-2015, the Cardinals captured the FCIAC championship. The Cardinals last won the state title in 2016. Karakas, a mathematics teacher at Greenwich High School, previously coached the boys golf team at Stratford High School. He took over the girls golf helm from Marie Shimchick, who spend numerous successful seasons as coach of the Cardinals.
“So far, we’re playing well,” Karakas said. “As far as the FCIAC and state tournament goes, we’re right in the middle of of everything.”
On Thursday against Ludlowe, freshman Caroline McShea shot a 43 at the No. 1 spot to earn medalist honors for the Cardinals. Juliet Bucher from Ludlowe carded a 45 at No. 1.
“My round went pretty well today, I had a few pars,” McShea said. “I didn’t know that stepping into freshman year that I would be on the varsity golf team. It’s a great opportunity and I love it.”
Said Karakas: “Caroline is consistent right around the 45 to 48 range in matches and she is straight down the middle every time.”
Greenwich will play all but one of its home matches at Millbrook Country Club.
“I had a great first round here at Millbrook and I have shot a pretty consistent score throughout the season,” McShea said. “I like the course a lot and it’s great that we get to practice here too.”
At No. 2, freshman Charlotte Langhorne gave the Cardinals a round of 52. Ludlowe’s Alexandra Boyce also carded a 52.
“Charlotte earned two medalist honors for our match against Darien and St. Joe’s a couple of weeks ago,” Karakas said. “She tied with Caroline (McShea) against Darien and was a co-medalist. Her family is into golf and she spends a lot of time working on her game with her instructor, so she is very focused on making golf her priority.”
Indeed, Langhorne is enjoying her varsity experience.
“It’s really awesome, I started taking golf seriously about six months ago, so for me to have this opportunity to play on varsity is awesome,” said Langhorne, who spends a lot of time working on her game at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course in Greenwich. “I’m really happy that I ended with a par and I had a birdie on 6, so I’m pretty happy with my round.”
“The team has been really awesome,” Langhorne continued. “I’ve known Caroline since sixth grade through basketball and I’ve made friends with the upperclassmen and it’s been a really great season with making friends.”
Ella Fish, a Cardinals junior co-captain, shot a 50 to help pace the team in their win against Ludlowe at the No. 3 spot.
“The season has had a lot of ups and downs, but we’ve powered through,” Fish said. “It’s the game of golf, everyone has bad rounds and bad holes. But everyone has been keeping their head up and playing well. Overall, we are improving, so it’s all we can hope for.”
Fish saw her teammates be especially focused during their match against Darien at Woodway Country Club on Wednesday in inclement weather.
“It was raining a ton it, the weather was horrible and we all played pretty well and everyone played as we normally play,” Fish said. “I’m proud of everyone for still making good scores.”
Like Peng, Fish enjoys her role as captain.
“I love leading with Sarah,” she said. “Having the freshmen and younger players on the team is great. They are so new to it and open to it and they are great listeners. Having them on the team and watching them compete is amazing.”
Added Karakas: “We’ll be happy to have Ella return as a captain next year. She has been very consistent in her matches as well.”
Peng, playing at No. 4, posted a score of 51 over nine holes on Thursday against Ludlowe.
“I was getting off the tee pretty well and my chipping was pretty good,” Peng said. “Especially my 30 to 40 yard shots, I was getting onto the green.”
Karakas is impressed with Peng’s commitment to the sport and the team.
“Sarah is very golf-oriented,” he said. “Last year we had a virtual season and she was my biggest competitor in terms of doing the Google meets program I put together. She was sending me her score cards all through the summer, because she plays with her dad at The Griff and Sterling Farms.”
Playing at the fifth position for GHS is sophomore Bella Crasto.
“Bella is brand new to the team,” Karakas said. “She is very well coachable. I tell her to try one thing and she puts it into practice immediately. At this point she has been the most improved player.”
Victoria Arlia (No. 6) is also a Greenwich sophomore.
“Victoria is brand new to the team as well,” Karakas said. “She surprised me in tryouts with how well she can hit the ball. She is focusing on our accuracy on the greens right now and continues to improve.”
Greenwich plays Danbury at Richter Park on Monday, then travels to Trumbull on Wednesday, where they will play the Eagles at Tashua Knolls. The Cards host Staples on May 13 at Millbrook Country Club.