Centaurs enjoy 1st trip to state championship
It was a new experience for most.
Playing 18 holes on a golf course in one outing.
The Woodstock Academy girls golf team qualified for its first-ever Connecticut girls state championship tournament which was double the length of a normal high school girls match.
“They talked about sore feet on the ride home,” chuckled coach Earl Semmelrock. “It’s not just the feet, but it’s the mental part of the game where you have to keep your focus playing that long. You have nine more chances to have a bad hole. You have to be mentally strong through the whole process. It’s totally different. One of the girls said, ‘Nine holes is like a walk in the park compared to this.’”
Still, the Centaurs persevered.
They went in as the 19th-seeded team in the 20-team field.
Woodstock Academy came home from the Tashua Knolls Golf Club in Trumbull Tuesday with a 16th-place finish.
“The (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) turned the bright lights on and the girls responded,” Semmelrock said. “After the butterflies went away after a few holes, everybody buckled down and did what they needed to do.”
The Centaurs finished with a 405 total as a team.
Junior Linda St. Laurent led the way with a 17-over par 89.
Woodstock Academy went down to Trumbull the day before the tournament, played seven holes and toured the other 11.
They were on the course until dark.
“It was a big help so the girls had an idea of what to expect,” Semmelrock said. “Even though they didn’t get to play every hole, they saw what the course was like and got some familiarity with it. At least, they weren’t going in blind.”
Semmelrock admitted there were still some errors made where his players pulled the wrong club and ended up in a spot they would rather not be, like a creek they didn’t remember was there.
“All the Fairfield county teams probably get to play the course as part of their regular season. There is a benefit to that and it’s no mystery as to why they all did well,” Semmelrock said.
Sydney Nethercote of Greenwich was the medalist with a 2-under par 70 with New Canaan’s Meghan Mitchell second with a 76.
Waterford’s Caroline Petchark, the Eastern Connecticut Conference individual titlist, finished in a tie for fourth at 6-over.
New Canaan won the team title with a 320 total while Greenwich placed second.
Semmelrock was pleased with St. Laurent’s performance.
“She’s learning how to become a golfer right before my eyes,” Semmelrock said. “She hit some quality shots.”
St. Laurent did get a birdie and thought her way around the golf course.
“That helps bring a score down and I was impressed. I would have been happy with anything under 100 and she kept it under 90. She was thrilled with her score,” Semmelrock said.
St. Laurent finished in a tie for 23rd.
Kailey LaChappelle tied for 60th and almost broke the century mark, finishing with a 100 on the nose.
Avery Jones tied for 77th with a 106 and Alex Vaida was the final score that counted for the Centaurs.
She finished 86th with a 110 total.
Senior Katherine Harrington had a tough day but was also consumed by senior activities at Woodstock Academy and that didn’t help her focus.
“They were all excited about it. They all had a good time, positive attitudes, that’s all I could ask for,” Semmelrock said.
There was one other thing.
“All the girls whose scores counted will be coming back so the future is really bright for us,” the Woodstock Academy coach said.
Qualifying and playing in the state tournament has to be a confidence boost for the girls and could even have another positive effect – more might play in the offseason.
“Three or four of them are talking about getting a club membership this summer which will go a long way to encourage them to play. All of New Canaan’s team are club members somewhere. Their scores reflect that,” Semmelrock said.
Semmelrock has told the team he may or may not be back.
The team members want him to return and if they show the commitment to the game, Semmelrock will show commitment to them.
“It’s up to them, but I really think they will be focused and ultimately, I will be back. I’m making plans in that direction any way,” Semmelrock said.
Woodstock Academy regains top spot in ECC
It was a scene that Woodstock Academy coach Earl Semmelrock was very familiar with.
Senior Katherine Harrington struggled on the first hole of the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls golf championship on Thursday at the Quinnatisset Country Club.
“She’s done that time and time again where I look at her and think she’s blowing up and going the wrong way and she just puts her nose down, digs in and comes back with a competitive score,” Woodstock Academy coach Earl Semmelrock said.
Harrington finished with a quadruple-bogey on the first hole of the championship.
She needed only 39 strokes to complete the remaining eight holes and finished tied with teammate Linda St. Laurent with a 47 for third individually.
The two led Woodstock Academy to a 192-203 win over Norwich Free Academy. Bacon Academy finished third with a 217 and East Lyme was fourth just four strokes back of the Bobcats.
It was the sixth championship for Woodstock Academy in the nine-year existence of the ECC girls golf championship.
It did mean the Centaurs reclaimed the title, however.
Waterford ended a three-year Woodstock Academy stranglehold on the championship cup last year.
“It was huge,” Harrington said of the team victory. “This was definitely the team to get it done. We have been doing our best this year, pushing really hard to get to this point. We’re all just so happy right now.”
Harrington admitted that the first hole tested her confidence.
“I was really worried,” she said.
Harrington had a poor drive off the tee and put her second shot into the sand. She got out of the bunker into the fairway but flew the green on her chip. She chipped on to the green but put a 10-foot putt 15-feet past the hole on the other side and missed the come-backer.
“It can be really hard to come back because golf is very much a mental game. You have to shake it off and think, ‘Alright, that’s one hole, I got this many more to go and this is what I need to fix it,’” Harrington said. “It can be hard, but as long as you keep that mental state of calm, try to do your best and not worry about the score, it’s OK.”
Harrington followed up that disastrous first hole with a less than desirable drive on the second hole which almost ended up in the water.
Fortunately, she found the ball, chipped back into the fairway and her confidence began to return.
“It was smooth sailing from there,” Harrington said. “My swing was getting better, the shots were getting better and my confidence got a boost with the better shots. It was awesome to come back. I had a really good day.”
St. Laurent had a run of three consecutive 43’s going until the Centaurs played at the Norwich Golf Course on Tuesday where she shot a 54 in a 207-230 win that gave the Centaurs a final regular season record of 11-4.
There was to be no 43 again on Thursday.
St. Laurent said her Waterloo was the sixth hole where she hooked her drive into the woods and was forced to take a drop.
“I kind of recovered. My putting really helped me. I thought that went very well,” St. Laurent said. “Everything was just kind of all over the place, there wasn’t one thing that I did wrong per se. I would hit a shot and it just wouldn’t go anywhere. I was just all over the place.”
The two really didn’t have a shot at a first-place finish.
Waterford’s Caroline Petchark, playing as an individual since the Lancers did not field a girls team this season, set an ECC girls tournament record with a 3-under par, 33. Petchark did not have a bogey and birdied the fourth, eighth and ninth holes.
“That is insane,” Harrington said of the score posted by Petchark. “I have never seen that before. Even like my brother, or the boys I see play or people in college. I don’t see them doing that. That is incredible to me and really, congratulations to her, she did so well (Thursday).”
Petchark won the tournament by 11 strokes over Stonington’s Liz Crandall.
Kailey LaChappelle shot a 48 for the Centaurs with Alex Vaida adding a 50.
Avery Jones added a 52.
“It wasn’t bad,” Semmelrock said of the 192 total. “It wasn’t our best of the year, but it was very good based on the conditions (the weather was cloudy and chilly and the course was soggy after some overnight rain). What I’m most proud of is that we had four other scores, that would have competed (for a team victory) and we didn’t count them. The girls are really responding, everyone is digging in and trying their best. It’s all I can ask for.”
It was the fourth ECC tournament championship for a Woodstock Academy girls program in the 2018-19 school year.
The Centaurs also captured the soccer, volleyball and lacrosse tournament titles.
The year for the Centaurs is not over.
They have a date in the State Open championship in Trumbull on Tuesday.
It will be the first time ever for the program, as a whole, to take part in the State Open.
It also requires that the girls do something they aren’t very familiar with.
They will have to compete in an 18-hole tournament.
“It’s a big deal. The girls really don’t play 18,” Semmelrock said. “We will see how they handle it. I think they will do just fine. It’s a mental grind. Nine holes is over rather fast, 18 holes can be a lot more of a challenge especially when you throw that many more opportunities for poor holes in the way and your mind starts spinning. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think they’re up for it and we will see how they handle it on Tuesday.”
The Centaurs will leave on Monday afternoon and will have a chance for a practice round on the Tashua Knolls Golf Club track before playing on Tuesday.
“None of the girls have ever seen the course before. I’ve been on it a number of times over the years. It’s always in fine condition. I’m looking forward to getting out there. I think it’s a score-able course," Semmelrock said.
Centaurs finish 11-4
Avery Jones shot a personal-best 48 at the Norwich Golf Course on a wet Tuesday afternoon and led Woodstock Academy to a 207-230 win over Norwich Free Academy.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 11-4.
Senior Katherine Harrington, playing in her final regular season match, shot a 50 and Kailey LaChappelle added a 51 for the Centaurs in the win over the Wildcats.
The Centaurs next participate in the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship on Thursday on their home course at the Quinnatisset Country Club.
Woodstock Academy in state tournament for 1st time
The Woodstock Academy girls golf program got some really good news on Friday.
Its 188-224 win over Norwich Free Academy on Thursday at the Quinnatisset Country Club likely qualified the team for the girls state tournament.
It’s the first time ever the Centaurs, as a team, have qualified for the tournament.
“A few weeks ago, we didn’t it was possible,” Woodstock Academy coach Earl Semmelrock said. “We always put it up as a goal because you have to make goals. It shows that even when we had Roxanne (Garceau), who made (the state tournament) as an individual that you can’t do it alone. You need four decent scores to make that happen.”
The Centaurs (10-4) have started to see that.
“Everyone is contributing. I think we have had seven girls who posted scores that helped in a varsity match somewhere,” Semmelrock said.
Junior Linda St. Laurent has become the leader of the team on the scoreboard.
St. Laurent turned in her third consecutive seven-over-par 43 in the win over the Wildcats.
“She hasn’t played much competitive golf,” Semmelrock said. “This is just her third year of playing nine holes of high school golf and then, she doesn’t play much. She has the potential to be really good if she just puts her mind to it.”
Semmelrock said St. Laurent has a goal to play soccer in college but he thinks she should not pass on playing golf at the next level.
“She’s posting scores that will get her some looks,” Semmelrock said.
Ask St. Laurent what has changed and she’s a bit flummoxed herself.
“I’m feeling pretty good but, honestly, I don’t know what’s going on,” the junior said.
Semmelrock did suggest an adjustment that has helped St. Laurent.
She has shortened her swing with her driver.
St. Laurent was battling the slice early this season.
“She had a big, loopy swing like John Daly so I corrected it. I had her cut it down to a more controllable swing and she still hits the ball farther than most girls and can get around the course like that,” Semmelrock said. “She’s starting to become a complete player by figuring out the speed of her putts, eliminating three and four putts, and making some birdies along the way.”
The Woodstock Academy coach said St. Laurent has the capability of shooting even lower.
She triple-bogeyed the first hole she played in one of those 43 efforts and had a pair of double bogeys in another.
“She’s shooting 43 in a myriad of different ways. When everything comes together one day and she eliminates those mistakes, you can see the potential to shoot in the 30’s or even par,” Semmelrock said.
St. Laurent said the team came together as a whole against NFA.
She played alongside senior Katherine Harrington, who was celebrating her final regular season match as a member of the Centaurs at the Quinnatisset Country Club, and shot a 46.
Kailey LaChappelle brought in a strong performance as well with a 47.
Ciara McKinnon, the Centaurs’ fifth player, then carded a 52 to bring the score down to 188.
It’s the first time Woodstock Academy scored under 190 this season and it was important.
It reduced the team’s average to 68.6 and moved them past Conard in the rankings to the 20th spot.
The top 20 teams qualify for the state tournament and Conard can’t get past Woodstock Academy as its season is over.
“It’s pretty cool,” Semmelrock said. “I’m not excited about a 2 ½ hour bus trip. We have to be there at 7:30 in the morning just outside of New York City.”
The state tournament will be played on Tuesday, June 4 at Tashua Knolls Golf Club in Trumbull.
Prior to that, the Centaurs finish up the regular season with a rematch with the Wildcats on Tuesday at the Norwich Golf Course.
The Centaurs then host the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship tournament at Quinnatisset on Thursday.
The Centaurs have beaten each ECC team twice each this season and are looking to recapture the trophy that Waterford took away last year.
The Lancers will have Caroline Petchark, likely the individual favorite to win the event, but are not fielding a girls team this year leaving just East Lyme, NFA and Bacon Academy to challenge Woodstock Academy.
“I feel like we have to be a little concerned about being overconfident. We’ve shot such low numbers that it’s getting into our head. I know some players are thinking they have to shoot in the 40s and that just throws you off your game,” St. Laurent said.
But there is a factor beyond just winning matches or making the state tournament that has motivated St. Laurent.
“I’m trying to prove to Coach, because he doesn’t know if he wants to come back next year, that we really want him back,” St. Laurent said.
Semmelrock admits that he has considered retirement.
“I’ve told them that my level of commitment is going to be directly related to theirs. If they show me they’re committed and want to get better, then it’s a good chance that I will be back,” Semmelrock said.
Centaurs break 200 again
The Woodstock Academy girls golf team is trying to do something none of its predecessors before were able to accomplish.
Qualify for the girls golf state tournament.
To do that, the Centaurs need some sub-200 stroke scoes.
They got one on Wednesday at home against Bacon Academy.
The Centaurs won the match, 195-223, to raise their record to 9-4 overall and 5-0 in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
Linda St. Laurent tied her career best with a 43 while Kailey LacHappelle added a 47 and Alex Vaida shot a 51.
Week 6 review: Centaurs have goal in sight
Linda St. Laurent had quite the day on Thursday.
In the morning, she learned that she had been elected as the vice-president of the Woodstock Academy senior class next year.
In the afternoon, she went out and had a career round on the golf course at the Quinnatisset Country Club.
St. Laurent shot a personal best 43 to lead the Centaurs to a 202-246 non-league win over Suffield.
“She is really starting to become a good consistent player. We always talk about the fact that when all aspects of the game coming together at the same time your score will indicate it. That seems to be where she is now. I am very pleased with the progress she is making,” Woodstock Academy coach Earl Semmelrock said of St. Laurent.
It was the second win of the week for the Centaurs who also downed East Lyme, 204-223, on Tuesday.
The win raised The Academy’s record to 8-4 and 4-0 in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
“We are having a successful season. As the weather continues to improve and we get some practices in, we are becoming more consistent. The girls want to get better and are working hard to reach their goals,” Semmelrock added.
Kailey LaChappelle equaled her season-low for the Centaurs against Suffield as she finished with a 47.
Katherine Harrington fired a 54.
St. Laurent also led the Centaurs on a cold and damp day at Quinnatisset on Tuesday with a 48. She was the only one who broke 50 against the Vikings.
Harrington finished with a 51 in that match followed by Avery Jones (52) and LaChappelle (53).
The Centaurs have only broken the 200-stroke plateau once this season and that is something Semmelrock is hoping to improve upon.
Plus, the Centaurs have a reason to make it happen.
“We have set a goal of consistent team scores of under 200. Right now we are ranked 21st (in the state). Twenty teams qualify so if we can post three good scores, we have a really good chance to play in the state tournament. We have two home matches this upcoming week and the girls are excited about the possibility of being the first ever (Woodstock Academy)team to make (the state tournament),” Semmelrock said.
The Centaurs are scheduled to play host to Bacon Academy on Wednesday and Norwich Free Academy Thursday. The regular season ends on May 28 when the Centaurs take on NFA again at the Norwich Golf Course.