Greenwich has won eight FCIAC boys golf championships and two state titles since 2001 and Jeff Santilli has guided the team to each title.
Not many high school teams have experienced as much success as the Cardinals have since Santilli took over in 2000 and the guidance he’s given the school’s golf program hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The Connecticut High School Coaches Association held its 54th annual Recognition Dinner at the Aqua Turf in Southington on May 10 and Santilli was one of 24 coaches who received an Outstanding Coach of the Year Award.
“I feel humbled to have received such an award,” Santilli said. “There were a lot of great coaches there that night who care about the sport they coach, so I was very honored to be included among them and be recognized by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.”
The Cardinals’ 2017 season was one to remember. They posted a regular-season record of 15-0 and won the FCIAC West Division title. Their success continued in the postseason, winning the FCIAC tournament for the fourth time in six seasons with a team aggregate score of 302 — 10 strokes better than second-place New Canaan.
“Last year’s team was a young group that put it all together and they ended the season with smiles on their faces,” Santilli said. “They came together so well and made it a really special year.”
Jackson Fretty, Billy Nail and Jake Moses (who graduated last spring) each shot a 74 at last season’s FCIAC tournament and Fretty carded a 71 at the CIAC Division I Championships for the Cardinals, who placed second in the tournament.
Greenwich’s roster this season is almost the same as it was a year ago and to no one’s surprise, the team is once again, producing exceptional results.
Following Monday’s tight 146-150 win over rival Staples at Longshore Golf Club in Wesport, Greenwich’s record stands at 19-0 after beating Ridgefield on Tuesday, including victories at the Brunswick Invitational at Round Hill Club and its own Greenwich Invitational at Greenwich Country Club.
Last season’s sophomores — Fretty, Nail, Ropiak and Chris Magliocco — are in the midst of strong junior seasons, while senior Jacob Pennella has also turned in consistent rounds
“Our match against Staples was a nice, team effort,” Santilli said. “A 146 was our low score for the season so far. From their sophomore to junior year, they have continued to improve. Last season’s experience was important, because they know what it takes to get it done in the postseason. They know they have to be mentally tough in the postseason and to not get down on each other.”
Santilli fondly recalls taking over the program in 2000.
“I took over the job when I was 25 years old, taking over for a legend in Rick Osvick (FCIAC Sports Hall of Fame member) and it was my passion to continue the great golf tradition at Greenwich,” Santilli said.
“My goal was to have young kids look up to the varsity players and want to some day, be on our team — just like our football team. After 19 years, I still have that drive and passion for coaching.”