It’s probably one of the biggest local stories that totally flew under the radar this spring.
But the St. Peter’s Prep golf team posted an undefeated dual meet record with a 12-0 mark, spent most of the season ranked among the top teams in the entire state and finished the season finishing third at the NJSIAA Non-Public A state sectionals behind perennial powers Bergen Catholic and Delbarton.
In fact, the Marauders defeated Bergen Catholic (ranked No. 2 in the state), Don Bosco Prep (ranked No. 4 in the state) and Tenafly, another state-ranked team, during the course of the regular season.
“It was a fantastic season,” said Prep head coach Ryan O’Flaherty, who completed his first season as the head golf coach at Grand and Warren. “I think it’s now at the point where we think of golf at St. Peter’s as a program. It’s not a team or an individual, but an entire program. We have eight legitimate golfers who could start for us. We have some top guys. I think the kids are more dedicated to the sport.”
O’Flaherty said that they were able to shoot practice rounds twice or three times a week at Forest Hill Golf Club in Bloomfield, where junior Kieran Purcell and his family are members.
“The kids have really put the time in to get better,” O’Flaherty said. “The people at Forest Hill have been fabulous in giving us the time to get out there. They’re able to squeeze us in.”
O’Flaherty has a program filled with lifelong golfers.
“They have been playing since they were in diapers,” said O’Flaherty, who has been an assistant football coach at St. Peter’s and previously Hudson Catholic. “I try to channel that football intensity to golf and the kids match it.”
Purcell has been the best golfer in the program’s history. He was the second Prep player to ever qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions and did so twice during his career. He had a rough outing at the state sectionals this year, shooting an unthinkable 85 and missed out at making it three straight appearances.
“But it usually helps to go into each match knowing you’re going to get a certain score from Kieran,” O’Flaherty said of Purcell, who plays in several youth and even adult amateur tournaments throughout the year. The other players have now taken a lot of pressure off him, so he can just go out and play and not worry about his score.”
At the sectionals, sophomore Paolo Matti had the best round of his high school career, shooting a 76, good for second place overall.
With that score, Matti now becomes the third Marauder golfer to ever qualify for the T of C, joining Purcell and Andrew McGlynn, who qualified five years ago.
“It’s great,” Matti said. “We all really had high expectations this season. I’m happy to represent my school. I’d rather think that I’m part of the team than an individual. I had been playing well. I shot a 36 [for nine holes] against St. Joseph’s [of Montvale], so I was feeling pretty good coming into this [the sectionals]. As a team, we had an undefeated season and that was great. To be considered with other two, including Kieran, is great and I hope there’s more in the future.”
Senior Mike Rojas shot a 78 and just missed qualifying for the T of C. Sophomore T.J. Kaczan shot an 83 and senior Jack Byram shot an 84. All signs of consistency. It’s safe to say that the Marauders were deserving of their state ranking.
O’Flaherty credited the work of players like Matt Donofrio and Ryan Pezzolla, who also play hockey at the school. It’s tough to make a commitment to a sport like golf if you also play another sport. Sean Purcell, Kieran’s cousin, is a senior on the squad and sophomore Dan Harcourt is a promising player with a bright future.
There’s only one problem. Since Prep doesn’t have a county tournament or a league tourney to compete in, the state sectionals represented their lone shot to win a title.
“It does make it a little tough,” Matti said. “Other teams have more tournament experience than us.”
But nothing can distract from an undefeated season.
“It really is awesome,” O’Flaherty said. “The kids have never been ranked before, but they want to take it higher. This has been a fantastic success. The seniors have done a great job with leadership and the younger guys have shown promise. Everything fell into line.”…
Tony Romano, who guided the Marist boys’ basketball program to three straight successful seasons, has decided to resign as head coach. It’s a big loss for Marist, because Romano was nothing but style and grace on the sidelines, both at Marist and as the long-time head coach at the now-defunct St. Aloysius High School. It means that Marist lost a head football and head basketball coach in the same year…
Rumor has it that former St. Anthony football coach Sean Fallon will become the new head coach at Dickinson, but the program will remain junior varsity for 2013 and become a varsity program again in 2014. The school dropped the program four years ago, but brought it back as a JV team under former Ram standout Carlos Rodriguez last fall. Rodriguez pushed the Jersey City Board of Education hard to bring the sport back to the “School on the Hill.”…
In the Hudson County Softball Tournament, North Bergen will face Secaucus for the championship this weekend. We’ll have more on the title game next week…
Speaking of Secaucus, the girls’ track team finished second at the recent NJIC Liberty Division championships, but Carleisha Forteau had a day to remember. Forteau won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter run and was part of the Patriots’ mile relay team that won. That’s four gold medals in one day for the young lady. Quite impressive…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (22-3). 2. Weehawken (15-7). 3. Bayonne (19-6). 4. North Bergen (15-6). 5. Hudson Catholic (13-7).
Hudson Reporter H.S. Softball Top Five: 1. North Bergen (18-4). 2. Secaucus (18-6). 3. Ferris (14-7). 4. McNair Academic (20-6). 5. Hoboken (12-9)…-Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.