Darien golf comes up short
FAIRFIELD -- Headed into Thursday's FCIAC boys golf championship, the Blue Wave were riding a virtual roller coaster from the regular season: plenty of raw talent and flashes of promise, coupled with an inconsistent spring campaign.
Prior to the opening round, Darien head coach Tom O'Donnell summed things up succinctly for his No. 6-seeded squad.
"We've been up and down this spring, but we have a lot of talent. Today and next week for the state tournament, we need to play our best golf of the year," said O'Donnell. "History says that one of the top four seeded teams wins the FCIAC tournament, so in order to buck history, we need to play excellent golf."
While the Blue Wave came out strong, Staples (294) eventually stole the show over the defending champions from Greenwich (299). For Darien (327), it was a mixed day both weather-wise and performance wise. An early storm ceased competition after six holes, forcing a one-hour delay upon the green.
"It's going well so far, but there is a lot of golf to be played," said Sean Fahey. "We have to come out strong once the weather gets better."
When Fahey and company returned to action, the Cardinals and Wreckers were weathering the earlier storm with precision shots both far and near. Meanwhile, the young Blue Wave squad worked its way to an all-too familiar roller coaster effort. Fahey notched a 76 on the afternoon, while Chris Carmody (88), Tim Westcott (89), Andrew Winter (81) and Brian Curry (82) battled with the league's best.
"I wish I had played better today, but we are a young team," said Carmody. "A day like today makes us hungry for the State tournament, and it definitely makes us hungry for next year's FCIAC championship."
But after two decades of seeing some of its biggest rivals capture the championship trophy, Staples brought one back home to Westport. Dylan Murray and Kirk Massie each shot an even-par 71 at D. Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club for the Wreckers, who won the eight-team championship tournament. New Canaan (301), Trumbull (305) and Ridgefield (317) rounded out the top five, while St. Joseph finished sixth (325) and Trinity Catholic placed eighth (336).
"Our main goal the entire season has been winning FCIACs," Wreckers No. 1 golfer Murray said. "The FCIAC has the strongest teams and all of our main opponents are in this tournament. So that has been our No. 1 goal and we have talked about winning it all year."
The victory marked the first time Staples garnered the crown in Tom Owen's 21 years at the helm.
"It is pretty emotional," Owen said. "We have come close a few times, like last year when we were one stroke away from making the playoff with Greenwich and Wilton. When you beat quality teams like Greenwich and New Canaan it means a lot."
Murray birdied the par-5 eighth and ninth holes and consistently sank clutch par puts during the back nine. He left the match proud of his teammates, who rose to the important occasion. Conor Mahoney carded a 74, while Austin Alianiello and Brian Wolgast each shot a 78 for the Wreckers.
"That is what you need to win this -- it's a team effort," said Murray, who shot a 2-under 34 on the front nine. "This is a team event and everyone has to play up to their capability."
Ranked sixth in next weeks Division II state tournament, Darien currently has its sights set on a familiar finish.
"For the past 15 years, we've finished within the top ten there," said O'Donnell, in regards to the upcoming state tourney. "It's going to come down to each one of our guys playing strong golf. Just like today, it is only one day. Anything can happen in one given day."
-- David Fierro contributed to this story