BEACON FALLS — The Woodland golf team has been making steady progress over the past two years in the Naugatuck Valley League under head coach Bill Carangelo.
The Hawks finished seventh at the NVL tournament in 2012 led by Mike Erickson, who shot an 86 at the meet to finish in the top 10. Last year he became the first Woodland golfer to qualify for the individual state tournament after leading the Hawks to a sixth-place finish at the NVLs with an 85 at the NVL tourney.
“Having a player like Mike takes the pressure off everyone,” Carangelo said. “He has been our No. 1 since his freshman year and he is getting better each time he’s out there.”
Three other Woodland golfers came within a few strokes of breaking into the 80s last year in a league championship match that featured some of the best teams the area has seen in quite a few seasons.
Ryan Warner shot a 90, Owen Harris checked in with a 91 and Andrew O’Dell came in with a 92. All three golfers have put their time on the links since last spring and come into this season looking to take it up a notch.
“This is without a doubt the most competitive team I’ve had since I’ve taken over as head coach,” Carangelo said. “The guys have put in the hard work over the offseason and you can tell by the way they are swinging the clubs this early in the season.”
Erickson is now in his junior year and leads the Hawks as co-captain and the No. 1 player. Warner is just a sophomore but earned his first Junior PGA Tournament win in 2011 and is slated as the No. 2 seed.
O’Dell is the only senior and co-captain and is ranked No. 3. He will take the leadership role after Woodland graduated seniors Matt Greggis, Mike Classey and Chris Mascoli from last year’s squad.
“Andy has made a significant improvement in his game,” Carangelo noted. “We are still relatively a young team and Andy brings that leadership quality. You can tell the way he is hitting the ball that he has worked hard on his game.”
Sophomore Zach Crowell is listed as the No. 4 player with Harris, a junior, as the No. 5. Harris was a pleasant surprise last year, putting in a solid round at the NVL tournament, and this year will give the Hawks a competitive edge.
“Zach has really improved his game since last year,” Carangelo said. “Owen is a solid golfer, and having them at the end of our rotation gives us the ability to remain competitive.”
Carangelo will continue to build for the future as he has assembled a developmental squad consisting of sophomore Dan Nomack along with freshmen Alec Feducia, Tom Giarratoa and Joshua Sierra.
“I’m really not sure how the rest of the league pans out this year following graduation,” Carangelo said. “Holy Cross and Watertown were among the powerhouses. But I do know that we are going to be a much improved team and expect to be competitive.”
The Hawks will tee off Monday against Kennedy and Holy Cross. On Tuesday they will match up with St. Paul and Crosby before hosting their first home match at Oxford Greens on April 24 against Watertown.