Since 2001, the Bishop Hendricken golf team has had chances to win the state title, but never could actually pull it off. Either the Hawks under-performed, or a powerhouse like Barrington simply played too well.
With this year’s state tournament just days away, the Hawks think they’re in prime position to finally get it done. While they aren’t necessarily the favorite, they’re among a small group of contenders that, if they play well, could be holding the trophy at the end.
There doesn’t appear to be a dominant team in the fold – like the Eagles, who won last year’s title by 23 shots over the Hawks. Rather, the teams are bunched, and Hendricken believes it’s right near the top of the bunch.
“In years past, everyone has been chasing Barrington, without question,” said Hendricken head coach Rick Angeli. “This year, even though Barrington is in the mix, it’s just like any other team. I put ourselves in a group of probably five schools, maybe six, who have a legit chance to compete for the state championship.”
Hendricken finished off its second straight undefeated season on Monday, firing a 153 at Potowomut Golf Cup to defeat East Greenwich – the Hawks’ top challenger in the Central Division –which shot a 171 and Cranston East, which shot a 241.
At 14-0, Hendricken certainly accomplished one of its goals, but it knows now that it has to put the regular season matches in the past and apply all its focus on the state meet, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at Cranston Country Club.
“The thing is, it all depends on who plays the best for those two days,” Angeli said. “You can throw out the last weeks of league play. It doesn’t mean anything when we meet up on Tuesday. We’re going to have to play well.”
Still, the regular season matches are the biggest reason the Hawks feel like a real threat.
They own the lowest score in the state this year, a 148 they shot on May 5 against East Greenwich at Warwick Country Club. The next-best score, statewide, was a 153 by Moses Brown. Hendricken also owns a 153, giving it at a share of the two best rounds this season.
Moses Brown has also shot rounds of 154 and 155, while Barrington and Lincoln own 155’s.
The Hawks like their low scores, but what they really like is how they’ve been getting there – with depth.
The 148 they shot came on the strength of their top three players. Senior captain Justin Matrone shot a one-under par 33, freshman Joey Tucker shot a one-over par 35 and senior Duncan Marshall fired a 39. The other scores came in low too, as Gavin Marshall put up a 41, Sean Irons shot a 43 and Zach White shot a 45.
On Monday, in their 153 effort, the Hawks had a different look. Duncan Marshall fired an even-par 35, Sal Savastano – a Prout transfer who recently became eligible – shot a 37, Tucker shot a 40 and Matrone shot a 41. White and Irons came in with 41 and 48, respectively.
“We’re right in the group,” Angeli said. “I think honestly, the teams that have depth would probably be Moses Brown, La Salle and ourselves as far as the depth going down to 3-4-5.”
And right at the top, the Hawks are loaded. Matrone has contended for the individual state championship the past two years, and is expected to be right near the front of the pack again.
“With my captain Matrone, I don’t really say anything to him,” Angeli said. “Two years in a row in the state championship he’s contended for the individual state championship. He’s a guy who gets it going this time of year.”
Marshall and Tucker, the No. 2 and 3 players, are also plenty capable of going low, giving the Hawks a consistent top three.
“It’s a good sign when we’ve got three solid guys in Justin Matrone, Duncan Marshall and Joey Tucker who can all shoot around even-par golf,” Angeli said. “I have no reservations for those three guys heading into next week.”
White will compete at states as Hendricken’s No. 4, with Savastano penciled in at No. 5. The No. 6 spot is an open competition in practice this week among Irons, Gavin Marshall and John Umbriano.
Whoever is in that spot, Hendricken is looking for consistency throughout the round. Only the top four teams advance to Wednesday, plus any teams beyond the top four within 20 strokes of the lead.
Moses Brown went 16-0 this season, Lincoln went 14-0 and Portsmouth went 13-0-1. Barrington went 11-2-1, Mount St. Charles went 12-2, Coventry went 11-2-1, Narragansett went 11-2-1 and La Salle went 14-2.
All of those teams have top-level players. It’s going to be a dogfight, and Angeli has talked with his team about staying focused on Tuesday so that they have a shot on Wednesday.
“We can’t win it on Tuesday, but we can sure as heck lose it on Tuesday,” Angeli said. “We need to be focused. Every shot matters. We need to be ready to go.”
And if the cards fall right, the Hawks hope this is the year they’re the last team standing.
“For the second year in a row we went undefeated in the league and culminate with a divisional title,” Angeli said. “We’re happy with what we’ve done so far, but we’re far from satisfied. Going into next week, we’re excited to get after it.”