NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck golf team ushers in its third coach in the past three seasons as new head coach Pete Kovalski takes the reins this year from Richard Troy
The Greyhounds grew by leaps and bounds last season, winning three of their final four matches to secure the eighth and final spot in the NVL championship. The ‘Hounds placed eighth with a 420 at the championship.
This season, the Greyhounds need to replace four seniors — Colin Sheedy, Zach Monck, Connor White and Josh McFarland — who graduated.
“We lost pretty much all of the experience we had to graduation,” Kovalski said. “We are pretty green going in as far as playing varsity golf. We do have some kids who have been around for a few years, but for the most part we are inexperienced.
“The good thing is they are all a great group of kids. They are excited about the opportunity to grow as a team. We had a large turnout — 14 girls and 11 boys. They will play themselves into the starting lineup.”
What coach Kovalski is referring to is how the starting four will be picked for each match this season. The team will play a round prior to a scheduled match and the top four scorers are the four starters for that match.
“I feel this is the fair way to do it,” Kovalski said. “No favorites. No hitting from different tees. Boys and girls will both use the white tees that are used in NVL play. This game is different from all other sports. There is no sense worrying about what your opponent has or what they are doing because you can’t do anything about it. The only thing you can control is your own score. You shoot well you play, but that opportunity is renewed every match. It makes things competitive.”
Naugy enters the season with two players who played in last year’s 18-hole NVL championship: senior Arbner Mehmedi shot a 110 and junior Derek McGrath shot a 129.
Junior Ryan Brink and sophomore Joe Macary both played on the team last year and are looking to take on a bigger role.
“We have a freshman Ryan Hunt who has shot in the 50s and 60s and could challenge for a spot,” Kovalski added. “We also have a very talented group of girls. They said they didn’t get a chance to play last year. That will change because I won’t be choosing the lineup, they will by the scores they put up.”
Naugy has five girls who played in the very first Greyhound girls invitational in 2016. The group of seniors Madison Brink and Abigail Pruchnicki and juniors Mia Rotatori, Francesca Spino and Katie Brown also played in the first girls NVL championship in 2016.
“We have 25 players who are excited about the opportunity to play,” Kovalski said. “We have the five girls who played in the girls tournament two years ago and we have a sophomore, Meghan Korowotny, who has shown she has the skills to play this game.”
“Mother nature hasn’t cooperated, so it has been tough to get outside,” Kovalski added. “But these kids are eager and ready for the season to begin.”
Naugatuck is scheduled to start the season on Tuesday at Hop Brook against Wolcott. The Greyhounds finish out the first week of the season on Thursday at Hop Brook against Seymour.