Coaches John Cobb and Howard Kyser haven’t seen it.
The five seniors who make up the team’s core have never experienced it.
But Thursday, it happened:
For the first time in Cobb’s and Kyser’s six-year tenure, the golfers took down Haddonfield, 171-178, firing their second-lowest round of the season at home on the links at .
“What more can you say when kids step up in the most important match of the year?” Cobb said after the cards were signed. “To say I’m proud of these kids would be an understatement.”
Kevin Brockway, the low man on either side, led the Eagles with a 40, with John Meagher right behind him at 41. Ryan Henry (44) and Matt Santarelli and Ritchie Stolz (46 each) rounded out the scoring for West Deptford.
Meagher, who is the Eagles’ No. 5 golfer, carded his best round of the season, but initially was just worried about keeping up with the Bulldawgs’ Dan Repsik and Will Tomlinson, who came out of the gate at even par over the first couple of holes.
After weathering a tough start, Meagher found himself slowly gaining ground, getting a birdie on the fourth, before Repsik and Tomlinson self-destructed and left Meagher, who also birdied the eighth, the driving force in his foursome.
“A lot of putts were dropping,” Meagher said. “I was just playing really solid golf.”
Brockway, meanwhile, used an eagle on four and a birdie on eight to offset a few rough holes, and otherwise played mostly mistake-free golf, while Haddonfield’s top two, Anthony Van Dervort and George Pelose, struggled, shooting 45 and 44, respectively.
The senior knew he and playing partner Henry were in a good position in the late stages of their round, and said finally beating Haddonfield was an exclamation point on the season.
“It feels really good—about as good as you can feel,” Brockway said, still grinning after turning in his card.
Haddonfield’s players seemed unprepared for the links along the Delaware, Brockway said, potentially magnifying the Eagles’ home-course advantage.
“It’s almost like they expect to win, but this course is really hard to just come in and play—just like Tavistock,” he said.
RiverWinds was effectively the Eagles’ seventh man, with the wind howling hard enough to knock over golf bags and blow the ball off the tee.
With a steady, 20-miles-per-hour breeze throughout the match, and gusts up to 32 miles per hour, the already-difficult course played next to impossible at times, as the wind picked up tee shots that might’ve found the edge of the fairway otherwise and left them atop mounds, buried in rough or in the grit along the cart paths.
“If it wasn’t windy, we might not have won,” Brockway said. “I think that hurt them pretty bad.”
The win comes after the Eagles took a battering at Tavistock earlier this season, when Haddonfield won by 28 strokes.
“A lot of people didn’t think we had a chance,” Cobb said. “Just like we couldn’t handle that place, I think they struggled here.”
Cobb credited the team’s five seniors—Brockway, Santarelli, Henry, Meagher and Zach Vorndran—who came up together as being the group most likely to get the Eagles over the top and finally beat Haddonfield. The team has come close before, losing by a single stroke twice and by three strokes another time, and Cobb said the seniors’ focus and effort was the deciding factor.
“This has been really a special group of kids,” Cobb said.
With Stolz, a freshman, already showing promise—he carded a 93 at the Arena/Rifkin Memorial Tournament last week—and the potential for a youth golf program coming together this summer, Cobb said the future looks solid.
“Hopefully we’ll get used to being in this position where we’re really legitimately competing,” he said.