Two matches, league finals remain to determine inaugural T-CAL
GILROY – No woods were used by the Gilroy High golfers during this week of practice rounds at Eagle Ridge Golf Course leading up to Wednesday’s critical T-CAL match-up against front-runners Hollister and Palma.
“Funny, we practiced the other day with no woods and shot 20 strokes better than today,” said head coach Eric Kuwada, following the Mustangs’ third-place 181 team score behind both Hollister (168) and Palma (169). “Now, its going to be a battle.”
With two more regular-season matches and the league finals still ahead, the league championship is still within Gilroy’s grasp. Despite not playing their best down the stretch, Kuwada believes his golfers can regain their top form.
“We had a meeting today after yesterdays one-stroke loss and today’s blow-up, we pretty much have our backs against the wall,” Kuwada said. “We have to play well the next two matches and take advantage of the two-week break before league finals to sharpen our games and gain some confidence.”
In the heat of the T-CAl title race, Gilroy practiced their irons and short games in preparation – hoping to gain even more of a home course advantage over the Haybalers and the Chieftains. But it just was not their day.
“Well, it was a tough day,” said Kuwada, after Wednesday’s calamity. “We didn’t play our best and it showed. Granted the conditions were tough – but the rest of the teams seemed to shoot well.”
Senior Chad Brownfield and junior Ryan Dinsmore both came into the clubhouse with team-low 44s, while senior Ale Rodriguez finished up with a 45, senior Brian Calimpong tallied a 48, junior John Gurich brought in a 50 and junior Thomas Hoshida rounded off the line-up with a 51.
The first-place Haybalers tore up the Eagle Ridge links with John Dempsey leading the way with a tournament-low 39 as well as Ian Hudson (40), Daniel Rivera (44), Chris Zubillaga (45), Zach Zgragen (47) and Matt Lopez (48) finishing strong.
“I thought we would have had a great advantage, but it didnt work out that way,” said Kuwada of the playing at home. “We played well yesterday at Laguna Seca GC, but today on our home course we didn’t get the job done.”
Although the Mustangs have their work cut out for them, they did show flashes of breaking out in Tuesday’s tri-meet with both Hollister and Palma. The Gilroy line-up poured in a second-place 155 only one stroke of Palma’s meet-low 154. Live Oak finished third with a 159 combined score.
Brownfield’s 37, Hoshida’s 38 amd Dinsmore’s 39 combined with Rodriguez’s 41, Calimpong’s 43 and senior Kevin Moyles’ 46 were impressive – but Palma’s deep line-up just squeeked past the Mustangs.
“Another heartbreaker,” said Kuwada, after his squad’s second straight one-stroke loss to Palma. “It came down to their sixth man shooting a 41 to beat us by a stroke.”
At that time, the Mustangs sat in third place by 1/2 stroke ahead of Salinas and Live Oak – but one point behind Palma and Hollister, tied for first.
“To keep our standing against Live Oak, we have to beat one of those teams. So its crucial that we play well,” Kuwada said. “The next two matches and league finals are what they need to focus on.”
Following a non-league match against Monte Vista Christian at Eagle Ridge once again, the Mustangs play against host Hollister and North Salinas at Ridgemark GC and then host both Live Oak and Salinas at Eagle Ridge.
“All the coaches can agree the league title and CCS qualifying is up in the air,” Kuwada said. “It will come down to who wins league finals. We have to put our energies into doing the best we can April 29 and see what happens.”
Gilroy will have plenty of practice with upcoming rounds April 14 at Stevinson Ranch in the Atwater Invite; two dates April 14 and 16 at Aptos Seascape; and an April 22 entry into the Monterey HS Invite at Rancho Canada GC before the T-CAL Finals at San Juan Oaks in San Juan Bautista.