FAIRFIELD — Cullen McCarthy didn’t know he’d be playing in the FCIAC boys golf championship until Wednesday evening.
That’s when New Canaan coach Bill Brown informed the sophomore he would be in the Rams’ lineup for the biggest match of the season at noon the following day.
Twenty-four hours later, Brown summed up McCarthy’s performance with one word: “Wow.”
McCarthy shot a 1-over par 73 to share medalist honors with Greenwich sophomore Charles Schrohe, as New Canaan captured its first FCIAC championship since 2015 Thursday at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course in Fairfield.
The Rams shot a team score of 302, finishing five strokes ahead of Schrohe’s Cardinals, who scored 307. Darien was third with a 314.
“It was a matter of who played the best on any day (this season), and we played the best today,” Brown said. “It was a fantastic day and we’re thrilled. We were really good and even the kids who didn’t play showed up to support the team, so it’s a great group of kids.”
All four of New Canaan’s counting scores were in the 70s. Junior Sam Funk was 3-over with a 75,and senior co-captain Sam Ives (76) and Marc DeGaetano (78) capped the scoring.
It was a fine finish for the Rams, who snapped a run of three straight league championships by Greenwich.
“The past couple of years that we played in this, Darien and Greenwich have been the powerhouses and they’ve been beating us pretty good,” Ives said. “We knew we had a chance this year because we have a ton of talent and a really deep roster, but to come out and get it done is an incredible feeling.”
Greenwich coach Jeff Santilli said he thought the winning score would be around 315, but the top three teams beat that number.
“To shoot 307 with that young team is great,” Santilli said. “New Canaan just played better than us, so what are young going to do? I’m very proud of the 307. There were a lot more 70s today that I thought there would be.”
McCarthy was the key for New Canaan, coming up from the junior varsity ranks with a blast. He started with a 40 on the front nine, but then shot a blistering 33 on the back, which included four birdies. He also seven ironed for an eagle on the 12th hole.
“I was definitely a little nervous at first and I had a tough start, but I got the tee shots pretty consistent and got the putts rolling, and was able to climb back,” McCarthy said. “We had a practice round yesterday, I found out last night and I was a little surprised. But I’m happy to be here.”
“He had played a lot of JV matches, shooting in the high 30s, and he’s a very consistent player,” Brown said of McCarthy. “He didn’t get too rattled, had a good short game, made putts, so Paul (Gallo, JV coach) and I decided to give him a try.
“We just had a feeling he’d do something and he sure as heck did.”
After Schrohe, Greenwich received a 74 from freshman Owen Duda, who was third overall, and a pair of 80s from junior Luke Scanlan and senior Matias Lew, a first-year golfer.
“(Schrohe) went out and did exactly what I figured he could do,” Santilli said. “He shot 32 on the back nine at Burning Tree, one of only four kids who have ever done that for me — David Pastore, Jackson Fretty and Paul Pastore — so he’s in good company right now.
“I didn’t expect 74 out of Owen Duda. I knew he could do it, but he’s a freshman and it’s his first time ever playing (at FCIACs). He kept us in the game there.”
New Canaan’s Funk, Ridgefield’s Chris Lang and Staples’ Mitch Rose all had 75s to finish tied for fourth place.
Darien didn’t have a golfer crack the top 10, but the Blue Wave was the only other team outside of New Canaan to have four players shoot in the 70s. Eric Lancellotti and Preston Yao shot 78s, with Thomas Ostberg and Preston Hidy shooting 79s. Brett Richards was one stroke back with an 80.
Wilton’s Alex Elia, who was named the FCIAC Player of the Year, shot a 76 and tied the Rams’ Ives for seventh place.
Hap Holahan champion Colin Firda of St. Joseph, and Ludlowe’s Ryan Grady and Tyler Bauer all shot 77s.
FCIAC BOYS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
at Fairchild Wheeler Black Course, par 71