FAIRFIELD -- There was some extra work required and more tense moments than usual along the way, but that didn't prevent the Greenwich High School boys golf team from continuing what has become a tradition this time of year.
At the conclusion of Monday's FCIAC Championships it was the Cardinals who once again gathered for the winning snapshot with the first-place medals around their necks. Yet this time, the process involved some drama.
Greenwich edged runner-up Darien in a three-hole playoff to capture its third consecutive FCIAC title Monday at D. Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course. The Cardinals and Blue Wave each finished 18 holes with an team aggregate score of 307, but GHS shot a 49 over the three-hole playoff, while Darien carded a 54.
The victory marked the first time an FCIAC boys golf team has achieved a three-peat since Staples did so from 1987-89.
"This definitely means a lot to us, this is what we have been working hard for all year," said GHS senior Paul Pastore, the FCIAC Player of the Year. "It feels great to do it once again, and to win it like we did today is very rewarding."
Pastore shot a 2-over-par 73 over 18 holes, before sinking clutch par putts during the playoff. He also got up-and-down for par on No. 18 in regulation, forcing the playoff.
"I didn't know what the situation was, but I knew it was going to be a close finish and I had a feeling that putt was for something," Pastore said. "I just hit it like a regular putt and it went in."
Ridgefield finished third with a 310, followed by New Canaan (320), Staples (321), Fairfield Warde (325), Trumbull (332) and Wilton (334).
Said GHS coach Jeff Santilli: "Playoffs are never easy; it was really exciting. It's nice to see Paul go out in style like that. He deserved it."
Junior Derek Sudell and seniors Dario Orlando and Thomas Kingshott each shot a 78 for the Cardinals, who finished the regular season 17-1 and entered the tournament seeded second behind Ridgefield.
"This wins shows how powerful a team we are," Orlando said. "We lost some players from last year, but no matter who we lose, we all hang in there, and today everyone played well."
Sophomore Christian Ostberg carded a 74 and Sam Knowlton, also a sophomore, shot a 75 for Darien, which received rounds of 79 from Mac Koorbusch and Jack Kligman. The Blue Wave also finished second in last year's competition.
"That was a tremendous performance by our team," Darien coach Tom O'Donnell said. "We have a young team, so we thought it might take a little time for them to mature and gain confidence. Now they are playing consistent and are making better choices on the course and smarter shots. I knew they had it in them to do this."
Ostberg sank birdie putts on the first, fourth and fifth holes, but his big highlight came when he posted an eagle on No. 12, holing a shot from 165 yards out.
"I never had an eagle in competition before, so that was exciting," Ostberg said. "I was three-under through five and two-under through 12, but I let it get away from me at the end a little bit. Overall, though, I'm pretty happy with my score."
There's a lot of pressure when a tournament is decided in a playoff, but both teams handled it well.
"I was feeling the pressure going into the playoff, but I just tried my best to stay calm and stuck to my routine," Sudell said. "My round started off shaky, but making a 20-footer for birdie on No. 5, kept me going."
Ridgefield, which beat Greenwich during the regular season, was paced by Jonathan Spicci's solid round of 2-over-par 73. The junior just missed sinking a few more birdie putts during his round.
"The greens were a little bit slow," Spicci said. "I just came off a tournament last week and the greens were fast, so I couldn't adjust as well as I wanted to. I bogeyed the last two holes, which hurt, but I thought I still played okay."
Senior Dan Kile carded a 3-over-par 74 and senior Hunter Tuccio shot a 79 for Ridgefield. Sophomore Justin Clark shot a 75 for New Canaan, while teammates Chris Tohir, a junior, and Kyle Finnican, also a junior, posted an 80 and 81, respectively. Leading the way for Staples was junior Peter Richards, who shot a 74. Andrew Felman finished with an 80 and Stephen Gai carded an 81 for the Wreckers, who placed fifth at last year's tournament.
Greenwich was awarded the FCIAC's Western Division title, Ridgefield received the Central Division trophy and New Canaan took home the Eastern Division championship. With another conference title in its possession, Greenwich now has its sights set on a state championship.
"Winning this title means a lot to our school; it's great to give the school something back," Phil Goransson said. "Now we are going to continue to practice hard and get ready for states."