Despite silver at States, Shimchick thrilled with Greenwich High girls golf season

Members of the Greenwich High School girls golf team pose for a photo at Longshore Golf Club. From left is senior captain Connie Bowman, sophomore Kendyl Nethercott, freshman Amalie Young, freshman Catherine McEvoy and sophomore Alexandra Sazhin.

Members of the Greenwich High School girls golf team pose for a photo at Longshore Golf Club. From left is senior captain Connie Bowman, sophomore Kendyl Nethercott, freshman Amalie Young, freshman Catherine McEvoy and sophomore Alexandra Sazhin.

When looking back at the season, Greenwich High School girls golf head coach Marie Shimchick can’t help but smile.

Although her team missed out on the grabbing the state championship by only a few strokes, the Lady Cardinals were simply lights out throughout the season.

“This was a very memorable season,” Shimchick said. “There were so many records that were broken or set. The best part is that the team is still so young, that for them to do that is even more remarkable. It’s the first time that we’ve ever had an undefeated regular season and that was really cool. Even the junior varsity team had a very successful season. The two losses they had were to the same team and only by a few strokes. Everybody on the team worked their hardest to bring their best to the team.”

As a team, Big Red finished the regular season a perfect 20-0 and 16-0 in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, blowing by the competition nearly every time they hit the links.

At the FCIAC championship match, located at the Orange Hills Country Club, Greenwich dominated the field and finished with a combined team score of 361.

Staples High School was the next closest opponent, finishing 17 strokes behind the Lady Cardinals.

At the state tournament, which was also held at Orange Hills Country Club, Greenwich finished tied with Staples High School for second place with a total score of 370. Berlin High School won the state championship by posting a score of 358.

“We really wanted that trifecta of going undefeated in the regular season, winning the league championship and winning the state championship,” Shimchick said. “We haven’t had that and I think we will be striving for that from now on. We have the potential to do it. You never know what is going to happen in a one-day tournament and it just wasn’t our day at States this year.”

Greenwich got stronger as the season moved along because of how the team worked hard in practice, but also pushed each other to do better.

“They are really terrific about working with each other,” Shimchick said. “Obviously there is competition among everybody on the team and that’s a learning process. They try to push each other to do better.”

Big Red was led by senior co-captains Connie Bowman and Caroline Lee. For the first time in a long time, these two captains had not been playing consistently at the varsity level, so they actually had more experience playing JV than varsity.

“What they had to bring to the team was their maturity and their leadership skills,” Shimchick said. “They both have tremendous leadership skills. What they brought to the team was a sense of calm and they were great. We’ve been very fortunate with every set of captains that we have had and this year is certainly no exception. They also showed a lot of improvement in their game.”

When it came to taming the golf course, there weren’t a lot of people that were better than freshman Catherine McEvoy and sophomore Alexandra Sazhin.

McEvoy was stellar for Greenwich High. Playing at No. 1 for all but one regular season match she competed in, McEvoy medaled 11 times and also was the top scorer in the FCIAC championship match with a 79, six strokes better Ridgefield’s Rachel Corry. In nine-hole competition, she averaged only 17 putts per game and netted a season score average of 39.89. She added 89 pars on the season and added 12 birdies.

In addition, she was named FCIAC and state Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone was Sazhin, who was Greenwich’s mainstay as the No. 2 golfer. She also averaged 17 putts per game and netted an average score of 42.47. Sazhin added 69 pars and 11 birdies and medaled four times. At the FCIAC championship match, Sazhin fired an 11-over par 85 and was tied for third place overall.

In addition, both McEvoy and Sazhin were named to the All-FCIAC and All-State first team.

“They are both very consistent players,” Shimchick said. “You could really count on them to lead the team. They kept their scores low and didn’t have to do a lot of putting.”

Amalie Young was the only  freshman on the team and made great strides throughout the season. She averaged a score of 46.579 and totaled 51 pars and two birdies this regular season. In the FCIAC championship she finished 11th overall with a 99. A week later, Young tied for 47th in the CIAC championships and netted a score of 83.

“Amalie was here from Demark and she did so much better once her mom came to visit over break,” Shimchick said. “From that point on, her scores were never above 50. She broke 40 at Longshore. She was a great.”

Kendyl Nethercott played at No. 4 for GHS. Although Shimchick said the sophomore was frustrated with her scores at time, it’s hard to argue with the results, as Nethercott knocked more than 10 strokes off her average from a year ago.

This year she averaged a score of just over 50 and averaged 18 putts per match. Nethercott was also named  All-FCIAC Honorable Mention and had 19 pars and two birdies this season.

While the foursome of McEvoy, Sazhin, Young and Nethercott were top four on the team, the trio of Bowman, Lee and junior MacKenzie Freder rounded out the varsity roster and competed at the No. 5 slot at various times this season.

In addition to Fonseca, Popp and Simmel, sophomore Mana Fujiwara and Alexandra Ng, as well as freshmen Claire Chin and Sophia Orlando competed at the junior varsity level.

“We set a record for the lowest team score against Staples and we’ve never won a match at Longshore before,” Shimchick said. “They are a really focused group. I am far more proud of our season statistics than I am about a one-day tournament. I’m sure next year they are going to want to win States. I think it’s possible. Where I think all the difference in the world will be made next year will be in the three, four and five spots. I know Catherine and Alexandra will be good to go, but I’m going to need Kendyl to step up her game even more and have a couple more people try and reclaim their roles that they weren’t able to do this year.”

While Shimchick has a plethora of positives to say about her golf team, she also knows that there is always room for improvement. On average, her team netted 71.7 putts per game and that’s something that needs to be lowered.

“If there was a weakness in our game, I would say it was the putting,” Shimchick said. “We just weren’t able to consistently get it under 70 putts per round. We need it to be around 60 or 65 for the four scores that count. We spent a lot of time working on that, but I think we need to spend more time perfecting that part of the golf game. It got better, but it’s not where it needs to be.”

In addition to the loss of Bowman, Lee, Maddie Popp and Carly Simmel, Big Red will also lose two freshmen. Young will be returning to Denmark and freshman Patricia Fonseca, who saw a lot of time on the junior varsity roster, will be returning to Spain.

“We are going to miss all of them so much because they are great golfers but also they are great kids,” Shimchick said. “They’ve been a huge reason for the success this team had this year.”

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