NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's golf team will look to blend a group of returning veterans and promising newcomers as they look to compete for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship this fall.
The Corsairs return five players from last season's team, which finished third at the GNAC Championships, and have added three recruits for the fall.
"We lost a lot of leadership and a lot of experience from last season," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Joel Baptista. "We're going to be solid at the top two positions, but there are a lot of question marks after that."
Seniors Brendan Kelleher (Hopedale, MA/Hopedale HS) and Brandon Oldham (Mattapoisett, MA/Old Rochester Regional HS) will lead the way. "We're in a similar situation to the way the Red Sox were with Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling," said Baptista. "We will need low rounds out of them in every tournament. After that, we don't have many players with tournament experience."
The Corsairs will be looking for a few people to step up. "(Senior) Pete Danko (Norton, MA/Norton HS/UMass) had a great summer and played well in some of the local tournaments, and we hope that will carry over into the fall. I like what I've seen from (sophomore) Sean Griffith (Bourne, MA/Bourne HS). He worked hard this summer and is hitting the ball well but he doesn't have that much tournament experience. We also have (sophomore) Colin Campbell (Marlborough, MA/St. John's HS) who also doesn't have a lot of tournament experience."
Three newcomers will try to crack the lineup. "(Freshman) Nick Valm from Dartmouth (Dartmouth HS) is going to be solid," said Baptista. "He needs to get acclimated, and I can see him being a contributor in the near future. He's got a good, solid game and lives and breathes golf. (Sophomore) Alex Cone (Northbridge, MA/Whitinsville HS) is coming off an injury, and hasn't played as much as he would have liked to, but I think he'll be OK. Joe DeAngelis (Milford, MA/Milford HS) is also a freshman with a lot of potential. He hits the ball a country mile, but we need to harness some of his distance and work on course management so he can be a contributor."
Kelleher is expected to be the leader. "I'm very excited for Brendan to be the captain this year," said Baptista. "He's a four-year player and has done everything asked of him on the golf course and in the classroom. He's made the Dean's List every semester, and he and Brandon Oldham are poised for good seasons and a lot of success."
Overall, Baptista likes his team's potential. "We need Brendan and Brandon to play the way they are capable of playing, shooting in the low to mid 70s, and having Pete Danko or Sean Griffith step up with a third low score to balance out our top five," said Baptista. "The college game has come a long way in the last few years. You need five people to shoot in the 70s. We have the potential to be right in the thick of things, and our goal is to win the conference tournament and qualify for the NCAA Championships."
The Corsairs begin their schedule this weekend. "We open up at the Duke Nelson Classic at Middlebury, and then we have a couple of weeks before we get into the meat of the schedule, which is traveling every weekend in October," said Baptista. "We'll be able to work on a few things leading up to the conference tournament."
UMASS DARTMOUTH GOLF