Tuckerton/Little Egg Harbor Leader Spring Sports Leader

Can Pinelands Golfers Repeat Undefeated Season?

Apr 05, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Connor Carney led the Pinelands Regional golf team last season and now as a senior is expected to do the same this spring.

Toward the end of last season, Connor Carney had a lot of great things to say about his teammates with the Pinelands Regional golf team. He also was looking forward to this season.

“I’m super excited for this team,” he said at the time, when the Wildcats clinched the Shore Conference Class B South division championship. “We’ll have a lot on our shoulders because the expectations will be higher. But those are going to be our expectations, so that’s OK with us. We expect a lot of ourselves, anyway.”

And while the optimism this spring will not change for the Wildcats, the lineup has been altered slightly. Not only did Ben DeFiglio graduate, but one of the team’s top three players, Kayla Gutierrez, a sophomore a year ago, moved during the offseason and transferred to a new school.

Still, coach James Becker said his crew remains a solid bunch and can do as well as it did last season, when Pinelands went undefeated for the first time in program history at 14-0.

“Once again, we plan on keeping every match close and competing to the best of our abilities,” he said. “We would like to defend our B South championship and I’m looking for big things from my underclassmen.”

Of course, the Wildcats are led by Connor Carney, now a senior, who’s been the team’s top golfer for several seasons and likely will deliver several scores under 40 this spring. Behind him is his brother, junior Austin Carney, who last year challenged Connor for the first spot on the leaderboard in many matches and helped combine with Gutierrez to create a top-rate trio in the Pinelands’ lineup.

With Gutierrez elsewhere, Austin Carney becomes the clear-cut No. 2 player, but the dropoff for the next few spots isn’t going to be a big one. In fact, sophomore Nate Szwed, who primarily competed for the No. 4 or 5 spot each match, should be much improved and a formidable contender for the top spot in many contests. Junior David Laney is another guy Becker is counting on to make a larger impact this spring.

“The underclassmen have to step up and take the reins from Connor,” he said. “We are going to look forward to Connor’s leadership and golf game, and I can’t say enough about him. Austin is going to turn heads, and Nate will continue to get better and put up No. 1 numbers, while David will continue to work hard and get better as the season progresses. I believe he and Nate are the keys to our success.”

Not surprising, the Wildcats had plenty in the tank from last season. Golfers who were not quite among the top five will have their shots to make some noise this season. Among them are juniors Creed Nass, P.J. Losiewicz and Alexander Dimm. Adding more clout to an already solid lineup will be freshman Thomas Reilly, who Becker believes will “put up No. 3 numbers all season long.”

Interestingly, a pair of young ladies have joined the program and should be competitive in several girls’ tournaments. They are juniors Adrian Dieckman, who last season played lacrosse, and Olivia Ladd.

The Wildcats started the season with a 185-200 victory over Donovan Catholic on a cool and blustery April 2. Connor Carney led the way with a 42 at Bey Lea Country Club in Toms River, while David Laney fired a 45, and Austin Carney followed with a 46. Szwed carded a 52 and Reilly returned to the clubhouse with a 53.

— David Biggy
biggy@thesandpaper.net

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