NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High School golf team began a new era last season under first year head coach and Hop Brook Golf Course head Pro Bob Clark. The Greyhounds had a one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back kind of season, but in the end the progress made was evident.
The growth could be seen in a pair of matches with Watertown, last year’s NVL champions. The Greyhounds fell to Watertown, 159-232, in their second match last year. By season’s end, Watertown pulled out a 168-191 win over the much-improved Greyhounds.
There were some growing pains along the way. Naugy suffered a few close setbacks in a 195-215 loss to St. Paul and 181-193 and 195-201 1osses to Wolcott.
There were victories over Wilby and Crosby that kept the Greyhounds’ passion lit.
“We easily could have come in fourth at the NVL championship,” Clark said. “The inexperience really hurt us. Even a lot of the coaches at the NVL championship were impressed with how this team came along.
“Personally, I expect better of my team. If they tend to settle, that is not going to benefit them in the long run. They have the talent to go as far as they want. Even in life you don’t want to settle you want to be the best that you can be.”
In the end, Naugatuck finished eighth last year at the NVL championship. Jake Alcorace broke into the top ten, shooting an 88 to come in eighth place overall
The Greyhounds lost three seniors from last season but come into this year led by senior captains Alcorace, Nick Fox and Ethan Maxwell.
“Jake is our number one player,” Clark said. “He has the potential to be All-NVL this year. He shoots in the high 30s low 40s on a consistent basis. Sometimes he settles and I think if he pushes himself he can compete with the top players in the league.”
Alcorace certainly provides the Greyhounds a foundation to build on as Naugatuck is armed with a foursome that is not only improved but ready to take it to the next level.
Along with Alcorace and Fox, juniors Kody Butler and Colin Sheedy will be looked upon to pick up their game a notch.
“Both Kody and Colin put in the work to improve their game,” Clark said. “Kody came on strong last year. He was the first player to break into the 40s and was named the team’s much improved player.”
“Colin is hitting the ball better than he had last year,” Clark added. “They are going to be two key players for us this year.”
The short game hurt the Greyhounds last year and is a focus heading into the season.
“We are going to focus on the short game,” Clark said. “Last year we had too many three and four short putts that could have made the difference in the outcome of a match.”
Naugatuck will find out how far the team has progressed when the Greyhounds open the season April 7 against O’Brien Tech at Hop Brook.