By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – That St. John’s High varsity golf has had a history of success both locally and state-wide is virtually indisputable. As recently as one year ago, the team recorded a more-than-impressive 17-3-1 record en route to a Central Mass. Division 1 championship and a ninth place overall finish in the state. Similar performances of registered success literally span decades.
2015 appears to be more of the same as this pioneer squad is at it again registering victories in bunches. Their 201-23 edging of rival Wachusett Regional at Holden Hills Country Club Sept. 24 raised the team’s record to 9-1 and proved that across-the-roster contributions are vital with each team member being counted on on a regular basis.
In the Wachusett contest, senior captain Tim Umphery proved that he was mortal by carding an uncharacteristic 43 for nine holes. Not to worry as teammates were behind him that day and came up big at crunch time late in the match.
“We’re a team of eight and we feel solid,” said second-year head coach Sean Noonan. “A lot of guys struggled today. It’s a tough golf course and I was proud of the way Cam (Gresham) and Vinnie (Murphy) came in. Their scores helped us win.”
“We’re playing well as a team,” added Umphery. “We stay focused and know how to pick each other up. This is a good team that knows how to win and that’s what it takes. We have a lot of tough matches coming up and we can’t take any of the teams we play for granted.”
That Umphery would be something less than brilliant on the links, even for just one outing, is an anomaly and proves that the nature of golf, while seemingly individual, is a team effort as well. Umphery is University of Connecticut-bound in 2016 heading to Storrs on a golf scholarship. Among his many accomplishments in his golf career to date are his tie for 25th place at the Mass. Open at Hingham’s Black Rock Country Club in June and seventh-place finish at the Liberty National Junior Invitational in New Jersey where he carded rounds of 75 and 73.
While the team is led by the talented Umphery, this is a group that features skilled players from top to bottom. Seniors Stephen Faucher, Matt Stephens, Vinny Murphy, Matt Franzoso, Cam Gresham and Jacob Cranston have all chipped in in various situations when needed as have juniors Brendan Cronin, John Ouellette and sophomore Peter Cullen. Murphy recorded an impressive 2-over-par 38 in the Wachusett win.
All of the above will be counted on as the team heads into the home stretch of the regular season facing strong competition from teams throughout the state. The second half schedule features matches with powerhouse teams Xaverian, St. John’s Prep, Longmeadow and BC High, to name a few. Despite the potentially arduous schedule, Noonan has full confidence that his players will rise to the occasion.
“Depth is our strength. We have a solid group of kids that picks each other up,” Noonan said. “There are no easy matches, especially hereon in and we have to stay focused and play our best.
“I like the camaraderie on this team. Most of these kids have been playing together in matches for a very long time and know how to pick each other up when needed.”