The Bishop Hendricken golf team’s coaches knew that the Hawks had basically clinched the Central Division title even before Thursday’s season finale against Cranston West and Cranston East.
But they didn’t tell the players because they didn’t want anyone to change their approach. And at the end of the day, nothing did change – Hendricken simply won again.
The Hawks got a 36 from Brandon Macedo, a 39 from Duncan Marshall and solid play throughout the rest of the lineup to fire a 161. That was plenty good enough to knock off West, which shot a 169, and East, which shot a 210.
The two wins gave Hendricken a final 14-0 record, the sixth time since 2004 that it has gone undefeated. West – traditionally the Hawks biggest rival within the division – dropped to 11-3. Hendricken also beat West 161-166 earlier in the year.
“West is our top opponent in the division,” Hendricken head coach Rick Angeli said. “We wanted to win the division and we wanted to go undefeated. (Assistant coach Norm Alberigo) and I both knew that even though we had clinched the division that West was coming in with a mission to ruin our perfect season. Basically, it was business as usual for us.”
To go with Macedo and Marshall’s scores, Garrett Quillen and Claudio Soukamneuth fired 43’s, while Billy Palmer shot a 44 and Justin Matrone shot a 46.
That victory came on the heels of a win earlier in the week against East Greenwich, which also finished the season 11-3. In that match, Marshall led the way with a 37, while Soukamneuth shot 39. Matrone had 41, Macedo had 42 and Palmer had 46, as Hendricken shot 159 as a team.
In the two matches prior to that, Hendricken shot 155 and 158. The Hawks are playing well, but more importantly, they’re doing it consistently. Their scores have fluctuated only between 155 and 163, they’ve shot in the 150’s in five of the eight rounds they’ve played.
“The match that we played where we shot a 155 – I think we had four guys under 40 – against Toll Gate and West Warwick, we had three guys 38 and below,” Angeli said. “That’s the type of golf that we’re going to have to play to push Barrington for the state title. If you look at Barrington’s depth, there’s a reason why they are as good as they are.”
That’s where the focus is now – trying to win a state title. Hendricken hasn’t won since 2001, while Barrington is the defending champ and has won nine of the last 11 championships.
While the Eagles are the favorite, the Hawks are one of a handful of teams that are hoping to give them a run for their money.
“Obviously the main goal is to win the state championship,” Angeli said. “I think we’ve put ourselves in pretty good position. I think we’re playing some of our best golf leading into next Tuesday at Cranston.”
Barrington has shot the lowest two scores in the state this year, with a 151 and a 153. It also shot a 154, which is tied for the third-lowest. Other teams, like Portsmouth, Mount St. Charles, North Kingstown, Chariho and West, should also contend.
Hendricken is just focusing on itself, and how it can get the lowest possible score at the biggest moment.
It starts at the top with Macedo, who has been the team’s No. 1 player all year long. He’s averaging a score under 40.
“We’ve had tremendously strong play at our No. 1 spot from Brandon Macedo,” Angeli said. “He’s just been in and out, every match, our No. 1 guy. He leads us, he’s our team captain.”
Marshall and Matrone have rotated back and forth between No. 2 and No. 3, and they’ve also been big pieces of the team’s success.
Quillen is playing No. 4 and Angeli thinks that he still hasn’t played his best golf of the season, but could make a huge impact at states.
The team’s No. 5 player has been Soukamneuth, a freshman, who has the second-lowest scoring average on the team.
“He’s scored in seven of the eight matches,” Angeli said. “Some of that depth that he’s been able to give us has really helped us to shoot some of those scores.”
For the No. 6 spot, Angeli and Alberigo are looking hard at a number of players, and they’ll be tested this week in practice. Palmer, Eric Olsen, Dave Gooding and Chandler Alberigo should all be in the running.
“This week, we’re going to put some of these guys under the gun,” Angeli said. “They’re going to have a shoot a score. Next week, when we go to the state tournament, that’s what it’s going to be. They’re going to be in that environment.”
And once that process is done, Hendricken will try to put it all together for two days next week. The state tournament begins on Tuesday, May 28 at Cranston Country Club, with the second round the next day.
“Barrington is a formidable opponent and we’re going to have to play probably our best golf of the year to beat them,” Angeli said. “I think with the strides we’ve made over the year, I think we’re ready to have a really good showing and hopefully play our best golf.”