By KRISTEN KELLEHER
LINWOOD – Ocean City and Mainland’s golf teams are finally getting into the swing of things and making great strides halfway through the teams’ regular season.
However, when Mainland and Ocean City faced off for the second time this season on Thursday, April 26, Ocean City’s young team fell behind Mainland Regional High School on Mainland’s home course at Linwood Country Club.
Mainland played Ocean City on April 2 at the Raiders’ home course at Greate Bay Country Club, and beat the Raiders 172-189.
Mainland came out 16 points ahead last Thursday, 154-170.
The win put Mainland at 7-2 for the season and Ocean City at 3-5.
John Petronis, Colin Roche and Anthony Godleski, among Mainland’s top golfers, each finished the round with 38.
Jay Feldman scored 40, tied with Dominic DiGiacomo, Ocean City’s top golfer.
DiGiacomo and Petronis each shot a birdie.
Raiders Jack Handshaw and Joe Cusato both carded a 43, and Jayne Jaussi finished with 44.
“We’ve improved and we’re one of the most improved teams I’ve had,” Ocean City head coach Skip Angelo said. “We probably won’t be able to get to a .500 record. We’ll probably be a little below that, but we’re improving quite a bit.
“The last three or four matches we’ve had some pretty good scores. We had a 161 and a 172 and prior to that all of our other scores were in the 180s.”
Ocean City is working with a young team this year, with only two returning varsity players and no seniors, but is progressing nicely, Angelo said.
“We knew it would be a slow start,” Angelo said. “Our goal is to just keep improving. We’re doing that so we’re very pleased, very proud. You might not understand that from the record, but if you saw where we started to where we are now, you’d understand.”
“(We’re) not too good, but better than expected,” Ocean City junior Jack Handshaw said.
Mainland is in its second rebuilding season.
Two seasons ago, the ‘Stangs were strong. However, they lost 11 out of the team’s 13 starters to graduation the next season.
The team’s record was 8-9 last season.
“We did pretty bad last year but this year we’ve picked it up,” Petronis said. “We’ve won the last couple of games that we’ve had. Vineland and the Prep (St. Augustine) were the only two we’ve lost to.”
Both losses occurred at Buena Vista Country Club, the home course to Vineland and Buena, Mainland head coach Dan Reardon said.
“We’ve played well in our wins and not too good in our two losses,” Reardon explained.
Reardon said the team had mediocre performances in their two losses, and scored 167 against Vineland and St. Augustine.
However, the losing scores point to one team strength: consistency.
“Last year we’d shoot great rounds and then terrible rounds,” Mainland’s Nick Lawless said.
“Everyone from last year has gotten significantly better,” Mustang sophomore Colin Roche said. He added the team’s consistency had made a significant difference in their season.
Ocean City appeared to be a little less consistent.
Handshaw said that some of Ocean City’s wins were close, within a few strokes. “Other than that it’s been on and off,” Handshaw said. “But from the beginning of the year we’ve definitely gotten better ... as a team we’re trying to stay under 50 per person. That’s our main goal.”
Mainland also hoped for continual improvement this season and to qualify and be competitive in this year’s state championships, according to Feldman.
“We’re just continuing to work on our consistency,” Feldman said. “We’re getting better so next year we can be even better, especially because we’re not graduating anyone. Our scores will be better next year.”
Ocean City will face St. Augustine today (Wednesday) at 4 p.m. at home at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point. On Thursday, May 3, Ocean City will compete in the Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial High School Golf Tournament at Running Deer Country Club in Pittsgrove. Mainland will also compete in the Carl Arena tournament on May 3. The Mustangs will also play Absegami at home at Linwood Country Club today at 3:30 p.m. They will be away Fridayat 3:30 p.m. against Egg Harbor Township at Greentree Country Club in Egg Harbor Township.