The Lafayette golf team is hitting their stride at the right time. For the fourth time in as many weeks, the Leopards finished in the top half of their tournament bracket, this time placing fifth out of 13 teams at the ABARTA Coca-Cola Invitational last weekend.
As has been the case all season, a different player led the way for Lafayette. This time it was senior Cole Berger who stole the spotlight, shooting a two-over-par 146 across the two rounds and tying for 10th in the tournament.
The Leopards edged out conference foes Colgate and Holy Cross in the invitational, but were left looking up at rival Lehigh who placed first as the only squad to collectively shoot under par.
“The tournament was good and the team is getting in the right direction,” said junior Ryan Tall.
Lafayette entered two teams into the tournament: the maroon “A” team and the white “B” team. The maroon group consisted of seniors Berger and Brendan Cronin, juniors Tall and Kazuki Osawa, and sophomore Martin Vanhaelst. On the white team were seniors Alec Cwienkala and Creighton Hendrix, juniors T.J. Repczynski and Drew Steiner, and sophomore Augie Beers.
It was Berger who got off to a hot start on Sunday afternoon, stroking a one-under 71 in the first round to lead the maroon team. Berger was tied for eighth place and five shots off the lead after Sunday’s round. Par for both Sunday and Monday was 72 for a total of 144.
Following in Berger’s footsteps were Tall and Osawa, who each ended Sunday with matching rounds of 76. Cronin and Vanhaelst each shot a five-over 77 to round out the maroon team scoring on Sunday.
“I think my strength was my short game,” Tall said. “I put myself in some tough spots and I was able to putt and chip pretty well to eliminate some of the damage.”
Cwienkala led the white team with a seven-over 79 on the first day, and was closely followed by Hendrix with an eight-over 80. Rounding out the white team scoring was Repczynski with an 83 (+11), Beers with an 84 (+12) and Steiner with an 89 (+17).
On day two, the Maroon team picked up right where they left off: Berger recorded a three-over 75, giving him an overall score of 146 (+2) and placing him in tenth place for the tournament. Vanhaelst shot a one-under 71, while Osawa shot an even 72 and tied Vanhaelst for fifteenth place at +4 overall. Tall rounded out the maroon team scoring with a two-over 74 on Monday, improving to a six-over 150 score after both days.
The maroon team finished with a score of 592 and placed fifth, but not all of the players were satisfied.
“I am looking to improve my decision making,” Tall said. “There were some spots that I was in that were tough and I could have hit some different shots, that now looking back I wish I would have.”
Cwienkala once again led the white team during Monday’s round with a six-over 78, and Hendrix, Beers and Steiner all trailed just behind with matching scores of 79 (+7), with Repczynski notching an 84 (+12). The white team finished in last place in the tournament with a combined score of 641.
“I did not play up to my standards,” Repczynski said. “I hit some good shots and some bad shots and overall the strength of my game this weekend was definitely my driver.”
Rival Lehigh won the overall tournament with a score of 574, eight shots ahead of any other team. The Leopards faced them yesterday in the annual President’s Cup matchup.
Next up for Lafayette golf is the Patriot League Championship, which starts on Saturday, May 1 in Annapolis, Md.