CHATHAM ─ With the winds blowing steadily across the fairways at Eastward Ho! Country Club on Monday, the Monomoy girls golf team drove, chipped, and putted their way to a 4-2 victory against Nauset.
The event was a Howard family trifecta, with Caroline Howard, Monomoy's No. 2 golfer, defeating Corrine Monger 2-1, and sister Annie Howard winning against Helen Gainey 1-up. Completing the circle was Jane Howard, who defeated Michelle Pecoraro 2-1.
Also successful in the match was Erin Smeltzer, who won against Rae Gainey 1-up. While Maddie Leonard and Delaney Agnes both fell to their Nauset opponents (Leonard 2-1 to Tori Sci, and Agnes to Lizz Czech 1-up), both played solid games.
“We're having a great season,” said head coach John Anderson. “It's a transition from last season when we had eight strong players, and now we have four that came back and are super strong, and then, really we have five to 17 that are all brand new to the system. That's been a lot of fun.”
Anderson attributes the increased interest in the Monomoy program to the team's stellar 2016 season that resulted in the Sharks winning the South Sectional title on the strength of players including Leonard, Annie Howard, Smeltzer and graduate Jen Keim.
“What's probably been the most motivating, and so different for me, is that I'm usually focused on the top six players, but this year because of the success of the program and winning South Sectionals, we have 17 girls.”
What that means for Anderson is that the players rounding out the top six are always changing.
“You never know who's going to be your fifth, six, seven, and eight,” he said.
In the No. 1 and 2 positions are Leonard and Caroline Howard, with Annie Howard and Erin Smeltzer in the third and fourth spots and Jane Howard and Delaney Agnes rounding out the top six.
“When [Maddie] first came a few years ago, she was really raw to golf, but she has so much physical ability and strength. She's worked on her game a ton [and] really has come along great,” Anderson said. “Delaney Agnes, who also plays hockey, brings in a different type of energy, which is great.”
Anderson is enjoying having each of the Howards on the team, appreciating their unique connection and the progression of each player.
“Our one to four all shoot basically the same,” Anderson said regarding his team's strength. “In the beginning of the year we were really trying to figure out who works best with each other. They've really started to gel.”
Anderson said what fuels the team each season is the unfailing generosity of the Cranberry Women's Golf Association, and the WHGANY, a golf tournament out of Eastward Ho!
“They have been so ultra-generous that there's no team that has better equipment,” Anderson said. “These girls play with such wonderful clubs, and all their equipment, and it's really because of these two groups. They deserve wonderful praise for that.”
In terms of whether he feels his team has another shot at the sectional title, Anderson is optimistic. The tournament features the top four players out of six, and Anderson feels Monomoy's chances are good.
“We have four super strong players, so I think we can absolutely make a run,” he said. “We're really one of the two favorites to win the finals, and I think they're really pumped to get back there.”