BEACON FALLS — The Woodland golf team’s best season in years didn’t happen by accident.
An infusion of younger players who practiced often to get better propelled the Hawks to an 11-9 overall record and a rare berth into the state tournament.
“We had a high level of dedication this season,” Woodland coach Bill Carangelo said. “Players put in the extra time and it paid off.”
Woodland on Monday finished 14th out of 20 teams in the Division III state championship at Tallwood Country Club in Hebron.
Mike Erickson led the way with a 79. Erickson’s score was tied for 15th out of the 100-player field.
“Mike was our captain for the second straight year and he led by example,” Carangelo said.
Erickson was joined by Ryan Warner, who fired an 87 on Monday to land inside the top 40.
Erickson and Warner were mainstays for the Hawks and teammates benefited.
“If you needed help with a swing or the rules, Mike and Ryan were right there to assist,” Carangelo. “They both live and breathe golf.”
The duo also led the Hawks at the Naugatuck Valley League tournament at the Watertown Golf Club last Thursday. Erickson scored a team-best 44, while Warner shot a 46.
As a team, Woodland shot a 194 at the NVLs, which stood sixth overall in a logjam within the middle of the pack. Naugatuck finished with a 192 for fifth and Sacred Heart was fourth with a 190.
Both Erickson and Warner will return next season to form a one-two punch at the top of the lineup. The Hawks, who will only graduate one senior (Andy O’Dell) have others that are expected to be bigger contributors in the future.
Carangelo said Owen Harris, who shot a 52 at the NVLs and a 99 at the states, gained valuable experience. In addition, Zach Crowell also competed at the states and can also build on the opportunities of this season.
Another player, freshman Alex Feducia, could also be a difference maker.
“Alex shows potential,” Carangelo said.
Overall, Carangelo said next season looks bright — provided that players put in the hard work during the offseason.
“If you look at the scores, they got progressively better this year,” Carangelo said. “I think next year we’re going to be even stronger.”