For high school golfers playing in New York in the fall, it’s not always going to be calm, sunny and warm outside. Playing in difficult weather conditions is part of the game.
So, when coach Paul Ellwood and the players on his Mattituck team got off the bus Friday after arriving at Cherry Creek Golf Links in Riverhead for the League VII Tournament, they knew it wasn’t going to be an easy day, with the wind gusting the way it was. Ellwood told his golfers, “Whatever your goal was today, add six to eight strokes to it and you’ll be fine.”
The Tuckers were more than fine. They ended up winning the tournament with a team score of 440. Following them were Eastport/South Manor (453), Bishop McGann-Mercy (473), Greenport/Southold (480), Riverhead (481), Hampton Bays (488) and Shelter Island (498).
Mattituck senior Richie Corazzini finished with the top score in the tournament. He shot an 82 over 18 holes on the par-72 course while teammate and fellow senior Brad Tyler was fifth with an 87. Three other Tuckers — Matt Mauceri (89), Jon Dwyer (90) and Erik Olsen (92) — were also in the top 15 and qualified for the county tournament next spring. Eastport/South Manor and Mattituck golfers filled nine of the first 21 places.
“I felt like the kids peaked at the right time,” Ellwood said. “We felt pretty confident. The kids really stepped up.”
The triumph brings the Tuckers a double. They had finished the league season tied for first place with Eastport/South Manor. Both teams ended up with 10-1-1 records, the tie coming when they played each other to a 4 1/2-4 1/2 draw at Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club in Westhampton Beach. A winner couldn’t be determined through three tiebreakers, and the fourth tiebreaker required each team to send a player out to play one hole. But darkness made that impossible.
Ellwood said the rule book is unclear about what steps are to be taken in such a circumstance. After a period of uncertainty, it was finally determined that the tie would stand.
The remainder of the regular season played out as expected, and the two teams, which have held the league title between them for at least the past 10 years, according to Ellwood, were left to share first place. They were the only teams in the seven-team league with winning records.
The Tuckers had won three straight league titles before last year, when they lost to Eastport/South Manor on the final day of the season, leaving the Sharks with the crown.
“It’s a healthy rivalry, and I think it’s going to continue,” said Ellwood.
Mattituck lost its second match of the season, on Sept. 12 to Shelter Island, and hasn’t lost since.
The Tuckers weren’t in a sharing mood Friday. Each team was allowed to select six players to compete in the league tournament.
“Up to the last day the kids were nervous about who would be in,” said Ellwood, who enjoys the luxury of depth to go with talent.
Such is Mattituck’s depth that Ellwood did not select Parker Tuthill and Liam Sehuford, who he said could have qualified for the county tournament as well.
Last Thursday Ellwood announced his six players, and the Tuckers hit the course with confidence.
Eastport/South Manor won the inaugural league tournament last year, edging Mattituck by one stroke.
This season, Corazzini led the team with a 39.00 average. Mattituck’s other top scorers were Tyler (43.90), Olsen (44.00), Chris Mauceri (44.40), Matt Mauceri (46.33) and Dwyer (46.78).
“That good karma within the team is why we won,” Ellwood said after Friday’s victory. “I think the kids got closure today. … It all worked out for us in the end.”