On the eve of the Catholic Conference Showcase, and again on the socially-distanced bus ride Monday morning from Westwood to historic Worcester Country Club, Gerry Lambert and his Xaverian Brothers golfers were all-in on their approach.
This is the state final.
The Hawks, along with conference rivals St. John’s Prep, BC High, and new entrant St. John’s Shrewsbury, are perennially in the hunt for a Division 1 championship. But with MIAA fall tourneys cancelled because of COVID-19, Xaverian treated its 2020 finale like a state final, playing with focus, composure, and mental toughness. Most of all, they took flight together.
Senior co-captain Eric Boulger paced five Hawks who shot 79 or better on the challenging Donald Ross-designed layout, punctuating his 2-over-par 71 round with a birdie putt on the 17th hole as Xaverian (299) edged host St. John’s (301) by two strokes for the title. St. John’s Prep (310) was third and BC High (321) fourth.
Joey Lenane, a junior co-captain from Dedham, carded a 73, classmate Spencer Dumas (Plainville) continued his steady play with a 76 while junior Trevor Connolly and sophomore Ryan Scollins tied for Xaverian’s fourth score with 79s. And teammate Dan Brady was at 80.
“I was really proud of all players today," said Lambert. “Every shot feels important in a tournament. But they played within themselves, and they showed great composure."
“It’s quite an experience to play in the Catholic Conference during the regular season. If there had been a state final, I really believe that four of the teams today would have been there, four of the best eight teams in the state."
Xaverian finished 7-3 in conference play, splitting two matches with St. John’s and losing twice to St. John’s Prep, including a 226-227 defeat on Oct. 14 decided on a seventh score tiebreaker.
On Monday, depth again was the decider as the Hawks held off a St. John’s squad headlined by medalist Ethan Whitney (69), who was superb, featuring one stretch in the middle of the round in which he birdied four of five holes, nearly holing out one.
“Boulger and Lenane are our leaders, and everyone knows them, but Spencer Dumas was our unsung hero,” said Lambert. “Freshman year, he was our ninth or 10th guy, last year, sixth or sixth, this year he was our third. Just really improved.” Dumas also had a little bit of extra intel — he was able to play a round on the course with a friend Sunday.
“This was a nice way to finish the season,” said Boulger. “To all of us, it felt like a state championship.”
“We talk about mental toughness, heck, you need that to be alive these days,” said Lambert. “A lot of society is dealing with adversity . . . I know we were just putting a little white ball in a cup. But we’re hybrid [learning] at school, one week in, one week out. It was nice to see how the team responded. The guys have always bought in to that team component.”
Southeast Conference: After a perfect 10-0 run through SEC play in the regular season, Bridgewater-Raynham soared to the conference tournament title at Thorny Lea GC, compiling 241 total strokes to pull away from Brockton (268) and West Bridgewater. Justin Peters (69) earned medalist honors and teammates Pat Concannon and Richie Thayer tied for second with 81s. “Another outstanding season for the B-R golf team,” said coach George Pimental.
Bishop Stang 239, St. Mary’s 191 — Seniors Graham Brown and Adam Carulli each shot even-par for 36 Stableford points to lead Stang (11-0, 9-0 Catholic Central) to a decisive victory over the defending D3 champions at Hillview GC. Sophomore Kyle Farias and seniors Paul Zeller and Lucas Oliveira all shot 1-over for 35, 34, and 34 points respectively. It was Stang’s second visit in four days to Hillview. The Spartans improved their point total from Friday by 26 points.
Braintree 93, Weymouth 58 — Kyle Devin shot a 1-under-par 35 for the Wamps (7-0-1) at Braintree Municipal Golf Course.
Dover-Sherborn 212, Westwood 228 — Sophomore Ben Schroeder led the Raiders (9-1) to victory at Sassamon Trace Golf Course in Natick by shooting a 2-over-par 34.
Weston 69, Cambridge 38 — Jacob Finard fired a 1-under-par 35 for 20 points in the Dual County League win over the Wildcats at Weston Golf Club.
Wellesley 146, Natick 91 — Jackson McChesney and Colby Sanville fired 2-under-par 34s for the host Raiders in the Bay State Conference win at Nehoiden Golf Club.
Mansfield 233, Franklin 235 — The Hornets prevailed in a Hockomock match that was deadlocked through the first five cards before their sixth scorer, Ryan Goulet, broke the tie with his 7-over-par 42 at Franklin Country Club. Franklin’s Nolan Norton was the medalist with an even-par 35, and Brian See and Nate Morreale had a pair of 36s for Mansfield.
Bishop Stang 4, Dartmouth 1 — Cole Dube, Isaac Correia, Noah Carreiro, and Trent Morris each tallied a goal for the victorious Spartans (3-6).
Cardinal Spellman 6, Arlington Catholic 1 — Junior Alex Kuzmich (2 goals, 1 assist) and freshman Nathan Monterio (2 goals) powered the Cardinals (2-0) to victory.
King Philip 2, Attleboro 1 — Seniors Cole Breen (2 goals) and Aidan Lindmark (7 saves) starred on Senior Night for the Warriors (3-3-1).
Nauset 5, Monomoy 0 — Seniors Ethan Boyle and Benny LaBranche anchored a defense for the Warriors (7-0) which held the Sharks (1-3-3) without a shot on net in a Cape & Islands League match. For the season, Nauset has outscored its opponents, 38-0.
Newburyport 2, Pentucket 1 — Brady O’Donnell assisted on both of Ryan Archer’s goals as the Clippers (6-0-2) handed the Sachems (4-0-1) their first loss of the season.
St. John’s Prep 6, Malden Catholic 0 — Senior Evan Hannibal recorded a hat trick in the win for the Eagles (4-0-2).
St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 2, BC High 0 — Senior Jack Jalbert and junior Shane Fonseca both scored in the win for the Pioneers (3-1-2).
Shawsheen 2, Mystic Valley 1 — James Genetti and Tyler Archibald traded assists to each other as the visiting Rams (3-1-1) edged past the Eagles (3-0-1).
Carver 3, Mashpee 0 — Maddie Butler, Natali Waitkus and Allison Thomas scored for the Crusaders in a South Shore League win over the Falcons.
Gloucester 4, Saugus 0 — Ella Costa scored twice for the Fishermen in a Northeastern Conference win.
Notre Dame (Hingham) 3, Hanover 1 — In a nonleague win, freshman Emily Coughlin scored twice for the Cougars.
Silver Lake 2, Duxbury 1 — Ava Mirisola scored in the first quarter and Toni Ierardi delivered in the third, powering the Lakers (5-3) past the Dragons (1-5-1). Liv O’Neil converted late in the fourth for Duxbury.
Cohasset 6, East Bridgewater 0 — Piper Finn scored twice to lead a balanced attack for the Skippers, who moved to 9-0 with goals from Kate Cunning, Maeve Norton, Maddie Miller and Ainsley Allen as well in the South Shore League win over the Vikings (4-2-1).
Cardinal Spellman 1, Arlington Catholic 0 — Senior Alyssa McColl provided the game’s lone goal and junior Jessica Pulsifer turned away all seven shots she faced for the Cardinals (2-1-1) in a Catholic Central League win over the Cougars (1-4-2).
Foxborough 1, North Attleborough 0 — Jordyn Collins corralled an Aislinn Servaes' corner and knocked it past the keeper to grab the win for the Warriors (5-0-2).
Norwell 3, Middleborough 0 — Chloe Kirschner had a goal and an assist while Lily Hudanich stood tall in net making 10 saves in the shutout for the Clippers (5-1-1).
Sharon 5, Stoughton 0 — Wendy Wooden (3 goals) and Sofia Goclowski (2 goals) provided all of the firepower for the Eagles (1-6) as they pick up their first win.
St. Mary’s 2, Essex Tech 0 — Seventh grader Sophia Skabeikis scored a goal in the win for the Spartans (5-4-2).
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With Abington shifting to remote learning, effective Tuesday, because new coronavirus cases continue to rise in the community, all in-person activities, including athletics, have been suspended until Nov. 12. “Our teams will still meet virtually,” said Abington AD Peter Serino in a text. " We will continue to work with district administration and local public health officials to provide opportunities for students in a safe and healthy manner. At this point, no final determination has been made on if/when we will resume in-person activities this fall, but we remain hopeful that we will be able to provide opportunities to compete if we can do so safely.”
Jake Levin also contributed to this story.
Craig Larson can be reached at email@example.com.