Southern Golfers Wrap Up Season with Another Tight Loss to Toms River North

By DAVID BIGGY | Jun 05, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Lasse Lehmann (left) and Peter Fabian walk the fairway toward the ninth green at Hidden Creek Country Club on May 28, as they play their final holes for the Southern Regional boys golf team.

Stafford Township — Last spring, Peter Fabian clearly didn’t need to be one of the leaders of the Southern Regional boys golf team. The Rams had veterans Caleb Rossi, Nick Campanile and Chris D’Alessandro, after all. Once that outstanding trio graduated last June, his position changed.

“It was something I talked to Coach (Jeff Reilly) about before the season started,” said the senior. “Without Caleb, Nick and Chris, I had to step up and be one of the leaders, and especially because we weren’t even sure what kind of lineup we’d have going through the season. We had a lot of young guys coming up.”

Fortunately, a solid pair of golfers joined the fray – Reilly’s son, Jeffrey, transferred to Southern from Christian Brothers Academy and Lasse Lehmann had arrived from Germany as an exchange student. Still, most of the players vying for positions on the varsity squad had little experience at that level.

“A lot of our guys didn’t have much varsity experience, if at all,” Fabian said. “As a leader on the golf team, it’s all about knowing the different courses we go to, knowing how to approach things and different strategies to take, and how to handle your wins and losses.”

The Rams didn’t lose much this season, going 16-4. However, their last two losses of the season – both within a span of 11 days – came to the top team in Ocean County and one of the best teams in South Jersey, Shore Conference Class A South rival Toms River North. On May 28, Southern wrapped up its solid season by falling three strokes short of knocking off the undefeated Mariners, 166-168.

“The season began with nobody thinking we were going to get far or make the state tournament, or whatever,” said Lehmann, who will be returning to his home country in July after spending the school year with Southern senior Emily Thompson and her family. “With all the new guys on the team, we definitely were underdogs. But we ended up playing a very good season. We should be proud of ourselves.”

Lehmann and Fabian led the way for the Rams in their final match – through the front nine at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township and on the leaderboard – as they battled with Mariners star Connor Bekefi, the two-time county champion, and Bill Fleury.

Lehmann played very well through the middle of the front nine and ended up with a 3-over-par 39, and Fabian was excellent on the fairways throughout and finished right behind him with a 4-over-par 40. But while Fleury recorded a 43, Bekefi turned out to be the difference, scoring an eagle on the fourth hole and going on to register an even-par 36.

Also for Southern, junior Jonathan Sheehan carded a 44, while senior Stephen Oakes managed a 45 and Reilly scored a 47. For North, Leo Kean and John O’Donnell scored a 43 and 44, respectively.

On May 17, the Mariners edged the Rams by a stroke, 160-161. Southern’s two other losses came to South Jersey powers Moorestown (16-0) and Washington Township (15-2).

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done this season,” Fabian said. “We had a few really nice wins and all our losses were close, except the one against Moorestown, which is one of the best teams in the state. But we lost to Toms River North by a stroke the first time and by two today, so that’s spectacular in itself because North’s one of the top public-school teams in the state as well. Our guys were great all season.”

Lehmann said playing on a team was a new experience for him – one he enjoyed a lot.

“In Germany, we don’t have athletic teams in schools. We can only play club sports,” said Lehmann, who hadn’t been to the U.S. prior to arriving at Southern last September. “Peter pretty much taught me how to play high school golf. It’s a huge difference being on a team. But I really liked the system here. It was fun and it was a pleasure to play with this team.”

Not surprising, Lehmann also has enjoyed his time at Southern.

“The Thompson family is awesome and they’ve been very good to me,” he said. “My school in Germany has about 500 kids from fifth grade to 12th grade, so it’s about 50 to 60 kids around your age. Here I had about 500 my age. It’s crazy, but I loved it. I’ve had an awesome time.”

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