NAUGATUCK — As the Greyhounds golf team prepared for the Naugatuck Valley League tournament, which was scheduled for Wednesday, head coach Craig Blanchard reflected on the season.
Naugatuck finished match play with a 4-7 overall record, good for a seventh-place tie with Kennedy in the NVL standings. While matches and individual play were up and down throughout season, Blanchard said several players on the team showed progress and had potential to be even better next season.
He came away with one bright spot in particular: the team’s work ethic.
The team played practice rounds on Fridays, something previous Naugy teams rarely did. The team also met to putt for 90 minutes on Sundays.
“They’ve worked very hard,” Blanchard said.
In particular, Blanchard praised the efforts of juniors Tim Fleck and Mike Leona. The two have combined to be a formidable duo in matches.
“Those two guys are our one and two, or two and one depending on the day,” Blanchard said. “There’s maybe a half-shot difference between their average rounds.”
Fleck has been the team’s usual No. 1 player during matches, but Leona has been improving steadily throughout the year.
“Mike plays a lot of golf,” Blanchard said. “He really works on his game and has become a decent putter.”
Blanchard also said he remains hopeful that three more juniors—Anthony Orisini, Chris Reilly and Colin Waldron—will improve during the off-season.
Asked Tuesday about the NVL tournament, Blanchard spoke about some of the top teams, Wolcott, Holy Cross, Torrington and Watertown. And while his team was a middle-of-the-pack squad this year, Blanchard made something more of the league tournament than just playing out the string.
The tournament represents one more chance for the Greyhounds to prove they are better than their record indicates. It’s also a chance for Naugy to face some familiar foes in a neutral setting and make up for regular-season defeats.
“The big test will be how they play out-of-town against teams that beat them,” Blanchard said.