NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High golf team returns a slimmed down version of last season’s team that boasted 25 players and finished 4-8 in the regular season and eighth at the Naugatuck Valley League championship.
The Greyhounds made significant improvement over the course of last season, dropping scores from the 250 range to 216. The 30-plus stroke improvement has second-year head coach Peter Kovalski looking for the team to stay on par with the rest of the league this year.
“We graduated four seniors, including three that started most of the matches,” Kovalski said. “We lost a few others who took on jobs to prepare to go away to college in the fall.”
“We have a significantly smaller group, but talking with coaches throughout the NVL there are lower numbers in the league,” Kovalski added.
Naugatuck will need to replace Arbner Mehmedi, who consistently shot in the 40s, and Madison Brink, who shot a team-low 47 last season. The nine players on this year’s squad are eager to pick up where the team left off, and a few have some experience to lead the way.
Senior co-captain Derek McGrath shot a season-low 56 last year and has played in the last two NVL championships. Junior co-captain Joseph Macary also had a season-low of 56 last year and was the team’s top finisher (22nd out of 36) with a 100 at the 18-hole NVL championship.
“Derek is a four-year player for us and a great player to have on the team,” Kovalski said. “He really improved his game last year and we are looking for big things from him.
“Joe has done a nice job for us. He’s working at a driving range, and I told him to take advantage and drive some balls to improve his game.”
The Greyhounds have a few others who are ready to make their mark, including junior Meghan Korowotny, last year’s NVL girls champion who shot a 107 at the 18-hole championship.
“Meghan surprised herself at the end of last season,” Kovalski said. “I thought she was a good player all year but she certainly gained some confidence in her game at the NVLs.”
Sophomore Ryan Hunt is another golfer who will make a strong push to land in the starting lineup. Juniors Adam Lyons, the Hop Brook Golf Course junior champion, and Liz Kilmer also come into the season with experience.
Naugy has a couple of newcomers who add to the team’s depth. Junior Zachary Crosswait and freshmen Christian Alvarado and Alex Kuczinski give Coach Kovalski a few more options for the lineup.
“We have some enthusiastic players who are looking to improve their game,” Kovalski said. “Having a smaller group creates a much more competitive atmosphere, and they all are pushing each other for playing time.”
Getting a team ready for the golf season is no easy feat. Hop Brook Golf Course opens the course Thursday and the season begins five days later.
“There is really not a lot of preparation time to be out on the course, which makes it hard to get ready for the season,” Kovalski said. “We have been to an indoor facility in Bethany, but it’s not the same as being outside on the course. But all the teams have the same challenge. If we can stay in the low 200s we will be competitive.”
Naugy is scheduled to open the season April 9 at Farmingbury Country Club against Wolcott, before an April 11 match at Oxford Greens against Seymour.