When Jim Underwood retired as the Mattituck boys varsity golf coach, he apologized to his successor, Paul Ellwood, for leaving him with such a young team.
“And then they won the league championship,” said Ellwood.
And then they did so again and yet again!
As it turned out, no apologies were necessary as the Tuckers won three successive league championships. They came agonizingly close to a fourth straight league crown last year, only to see it slip from their grasp with a loss to Eastport/South Manor on the final day of the season at Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club.
Mattituck finished the season with a 10-2 record, behind League VII champion Eastport/South Manor (11-1). Over the past five years, Mattituck’s record is a remarkable 56-4.
“The record is great, but the guys, they kind of have that chip on their shoulder after last season,” Ellwood said. “They’re not taking things for granted this year.”
Mattituck will be a force to be reckoned with once again. The Tuckers return their entire lineup, including all-league golfers Eric Olsen, Brad Tyler and Richie Corazzini. All three of those seniors had nine-hole averages between 39 and 40 and took turns playing the No. 1 position.
More varsity experience is provided by sophomore John Dwyer (42 average), junior Chris Mauceri (44) and freshman Matt Mauceri (46). Liam Sehuford, a senior, and Parker Tuthill, a sophomore, played mostly exhibition matches last season.
It’s a solid eight, to be sure.
“We’re good, we’re deep,” Ellwood said. “It’s just how are we going to play in those big matches? If we catch fire, I don’t think anybody is going to beat us.”
Ellwood said it will be critical for Mattituck two take two wins from its three away matches against Eastport/South Manor, Greenport/Southold and Shelter Island.
The competition in League VII is expected to be keen among those four teams, including a Greenport/Southold contingent that coach Dave Fujita said is the deepest he has had in years.
“It should be interesting,” Fujita said of the upcoming League VII season. “I haven’t seen it this competitive in a while. Anything can happen. If we play the way we need to play, we have a shot at anything, but playing it and saying it are two different things.”
A big plus in Greenport/Southold’s favor is the fact that the Clippers (8-4) lost only one player to graduation, Dave O’Day. The rest of the lineup returns, five seniors among them.
The co-captains, senior Rob Anderson and junior Tom Messana, both all-league selections last year, are competing for the No. 1 spot. They averaged in the low 40s.
“I’m counting on these guys to break 40 this year on a consistent basis,” Fujita said. “If they break 40, they’re giving themselves a chance to win their match.”
Also featured are senior Tim Stankewicz, junior Alex Poliwoda, senior Rob Mahony, and sophomores Brendan Walker and Liam Walker, who are not related. Brian Tuthill, a senior, played in the first match last year before a shoulder injury shut him down for the remainder of the season. Tuthill is about 95 percent recovered and has been cleared to play, said Fujita.
Bobby Van Mater, a freshman, and Ryan Harroun, a senior, are new to the team.
Fujita said Anderson and Messana can beat anyone, and his next four golfers should be fairly consistent, hopefully breaking 45.
“I’m lucky,” Fujita said. “I have great kids, they love the sport and hopefully they’ll take these memories with them wherever they go. Think about it, playing golf after school on these beautiful courses; it doesn’t get any better than that, right?”