KENSINGTON — The members of the Hand boys golf team have had the better part of two weeks to reflect upon losing the Southern Connecticut Conference championship meet by a single stroke.
To say that result didn’t sit well with the Tigers would be a vast understatement.
“I was very disappointed just the way we played, I knew we were a lot better than that,” Hand coach Jim Holleran said. “I think for the guys, it carried over. We had a match that week and we played kind of lackluster, a hangover of the disappointment.”
But there was one more opportunity to defend a title: the Division II state championship meet. And the Tigers made sure they got it done on Monday at Timberlin Golf Course.
Doyle fired a 5-under-par 67 to earn medalist laurels and help Hand win by eight strokes.
“Everybody was in shock afterwards (after the SCC meet). You just don’t expect that at all. It was a tough day out there,” Doyle said. “We just had to practice hard and get ready for the state championship.”
Hand totaled 299. Matt Gagliardi shot a 76 and Conner Quinn and Reece Scott both shot 78. It was the fourth state championship for the Tigers, all in the last decade.
“It’s very rewarding. When your five guy (Gagliardi) is shooting 76, you can’t ask for much more than that,” Doyle said.
Said Holleran: “They recommitted to getting back to where they were, which I thought was the best team in the state. 299 is a very good number, if somebody beat us today, I’d tip my hat to them.”
Hand's Matt Doyle fired a 5-under 67 at Timberlin to earn medalist laurels at the Division II state golf championship meet. Hand won the team title with a 299 score. #ctgolf pic.twitter.com/HwZgyJrkRq
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) June 8, 2021
Fairfield Prep won the Division I state championship on Monday at Tallwood CC, its first state title since 1995.
The Tigers won by five strokes in 2019. Last year’s golf season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doyle, a senior bound for Division I Elon in the fall, also defended his individual title. Two years ago, Doyle shot a 70 at Stanley GC in New Britain to defeat another sophomore, Berlin’s Jacob Lindsay, by two shots.
On Monday, Doyle was four strokes better than the field. Doyle, Quinn and Scott are all expected to be playing in Saturday’s State Open, an individual event only, at the Blsck Hall Club.
Pomperaug, which won the South-West Conference tournament championship by 32 strokes last week, had four players break 80, led by Dan Cassanta and Luke Brower with 76. That helped the Panthers finish second with a cumulative 308 total.
“That was our goal. The kids got together and wanted to have four guys in the 70s,” Pomperaug coach Rich Szymanski said. “We thought if we played the way we did at SWCs, we would finish fourth, maybe. And we played better. I told them that we shot higher in state championship meets and won twice (in 1998 and 1999). Hand is just darn good. They are the best team. I couldn’t be prouder of the kids. They have worked so hard all year.”
Jon Bushka from Notre Dame-West Haven tied for second with Wilton’s Alex Elia, both golfers shooting 1-under 71. Bushka’s efforts helped Notre Dame place third at 310.
“I try not to think about my score (during the round) because I know it messes me up,” Bushka said. “I had a feeling it would be good enough for the top three at least. I was so relieved once I finished. I was happy I was able to do everything I could for our team.”
Cole Hahn shot 72 to finish fourth and help Avon place sixth at 321, just edging out East Lyme. Lindsay shot 78 this year and Braden Shea shot 76 to help Berlin tie Farmington for fourth place at 316.
Division II state championship meet
(at Timberlin GC)
1. Hand 299; 2. Pomperaug, 308; 3. Notre Dame-West Haven 310; 4 (tie) Berlin and Farmington, 316; 6. Avon 321; 7. East Lyme, 322; 8. RHAM, 329; 9. Wilton, 333; 10. E.O. Smith, 340; 11. Branford, 344; 12. Wethersfield, 346; 13. Masuk, 349; 14. (tie) Woodstock Academy and Weston, 354; 16. Fitch 359; 17. Guilford, 363; 18. East Haven, 367; 19. Brookfield, 369; 20. Ellis Tech, 395.
Matt Doyle (Hand), 67; Jon Bushka (Notre Dame-West Haven), 71; Alex Elia (Wilton), 71; Cole Hahn (Avon), 72; Logan Rolfe (East Lyme), 74; John Guerrera (Farmington), 74; Caleb Smith (Farmington), 75; Presten Duprey (RHAM), 76; Luke Brower (Pomperaug), 76; Braden Shea (Berlin), 76; Dan Casanta (Pomperaug), 76; Matt Gagliardi (Hand), 76; Jake Ivan-Pal (Notre Dame-West Haven), 76; Scott Petrosky (Bristol Central), 77; Jack Szabo (Pomperaug), 77; Logan Beers (New Fairfield), 78; Matt Orefice (East Lyme), 78; Jacob Lindsay (Berlin), 78; Dan Singer (East Lyme), 78; William Giaquinto (Notre Dame-West Haven), 78; Michael Guerrara (Farmington), 78; Conner Quinn (Hand), 78; Reece Scott (Hand), 78; John Bray (EO Smith), 78; Terrance Dornfried (Berlin), 79; Tyler Flood (Pomperaug), 79; Ian Reynolds (East Haven), 79; Colin Barrett (Avon), 79.