‘Hounds, Hawks driving towards NVL golf tourney

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Woodland’s Andy O’Dell sinks a birdie putt on the second hole at the Oxford Greens in Oxford Monday afternoon versus Crosby. Naugatuck and Woodland golfers are preparing for the Naugatuck Valley League tournament, May 31, as their seasons wind down. -ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Naugatuck and Woodland golf teams are on the top of their games as the regular season winds down. Both teams are gearing up for the Naugatuck Valley League tournament on May 31 at the Watertown Country Club.

“I have seen a lot of improvement since the beginning of the season,” Naugatuck coach Craig Blanchard said. “The kids are constantly talking to each other about their game. It whets their appetite and from a coaches perspective that’s really all you can ask for.”

The Greyhounds have assembled a solid unit led by sophomore captain Nick Tribanas, who has been a medalist four times this season.

“Nick is a real good leader for us,” Blanchard said. “Practice ends at 5:15 and he stays out there another 45 minutes working on his game.”

Senior Matt Schumacher can consistently hit in the 40s and the ‘Hounds are loaded with young talent that is ready to emerge.

Sophomores Brandon Waldron, Tyler Sounanthanam and Dan Capone, along with Matt Jackson and Tom Karas, have all contributed to the Greyhounds’ success on the links this season.

“Tyler has such an effortless swing,” Blanchard said. “If he continues to work on his game this summer he is really going to be a more consistent player for us. Matt is a big kid at 6-2, 200 and change. He can really drive the ball. At the Woodland tournament in Oxford the third hole is a par 5. It’s 525 yards to the center of the green and on the tee shot Matt hit the 200-yard marker. His second shot went over the green. If he works on his short game this summer he is going to be a special player next year.”

Blanchard said the team is setting its goals fairly high for the league championships. Naugy has matches against Wolcott (Friday), Watertown (Monday), and Crosby (Wednesday) to prepare.

“I think we can be in the top five teams at the NVL tournament,” Blanchard said. “We still have a couple of more matches to get ready for it.”

Woodland, under first year head coach Bill Carangelo, is a little inexperienced but has battled to a 4-8 record.

Senior Pat O’Dell, with help from Dave Hardy and Mike Segala, lead a team that is trying to build for the future with a lot of young talent.

“Pat is an excellent leader but as a team we are young and inexperienced,” Carangelo said.

Sophomore Andy O’Dell, along with freshmen Mike Erickson and Will Flormann, give the Hawks a solid footing for the future.

“The top teams in the NVL have golf courses to work on their game,” Carangelo said. “Naugatuck has Hop Brook, Watertown and Torrington have country club courses. That makes a big difference. If our kids get out there and work on their game we can be just as competitive.”

Woodland will look to juniors Mike Classey and Matt Greggis to lead the way next season. The Hawks have a JV program that Carangelo refers to as his developmental squad. Sophomore Anna Boris is the only girl on the team but is making good strides in her game.

Juniors Stephen Symolon, Eric Meier, Sean Meany and Chris Mascoli, along with freshman Mitchill Moutinho, will offer Carangelo more options next season.

Eight players gained experience in 18-hole competition when the team hosted the first-ever Woodland Invitational on May 3. Pomperaug won the competition, while the Hawks’ two teams finished among the middle of the pack.

Woodland had a road match against Kennedy (Thursday), and a road matches versus Ansonia/Derby (Monday), and Northwestern (Wednesday) to prepare for the league championships on May 31.

“Going into the NVL tournament we are just looking to be respectable,” Carangelo said. “With our youth and inexperience that’s what the goal is.”