Entering the 2014-15 season, the Manhattan College men’s golf team should feel good about themselves. They came within just a few strokes short of capturing its first ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title last season, and hope to carry the momentum to this season.
That’s not to say this team is a lock to win or even compete for this year’s MAAC. Something that cannot be overlooked is the loss of three seniors from last season’s team, three of its best players: Chris Calabro, Jonathan Feuer and Paul Toohey.
Freshmen, You Are Our Only Hope
The Jaspers filled in the void left behind with four new freshmen recruits. These incoming players arrive with tournament experience and will have mentors in Clark Gavin, the newly hired asistant head coach, plus the handful of upperclassmen already on the team to help ease their way in to college play.
There is not any level of concern coming from Manhattan head coach Jerry Wood about the forthcoming spotlight and pressure that is going to be placed on the freshmen. He sees the six fall tournaments as a time of acclimation because “they’ve all done it.”
“Over the course of these six tournaments,” Wood said, “and the spring will give me a sense of who can really handle the pressure and who really can play.”
So the focus of the fall half of the Jaspers’ season is to not only learn and improve as a team who had high expectations of themselves going into last year’s MAAC championship, but also to realize they need to take the time to make sure the freshmen are comfortable, said junior Mike Giannico.
“We’re a new team,” said Giannico. “We’re a building team.”
Better Than Last Year?
The 2013-14 Jaspers were experienced and formidable from top to bottom. Despite losing Calabro, Feuer and Toohey, current junior Jasper Ross Ketner believes the 2014-15 team is 100 percent better than last season.
Calabro agreed with Ketner, who said from the top down there is a set of skills and attitude the Jaspers did not have when he played.
“I believe this team has an excellent chance; an even better chance than we did in winning this thing,” Calabro said. “It’s not about the talent, it’s about the heart that these guys have.”
Looking Good, but Not So Fast
Although the Jaspers are a strong young team, a dangerous conference opponent that must not be forgotten are the defending MAAC champion Saint Peter’s Peacocks, who can easily repeat because they have their entire team returning.
Saint Peter’s head coach Peter Falloon understandably considers his team the favorite, but he
views the Jaspers as a threat due to the fact that much like the Peacocks, both are in need of a “solid five guy” to help the counted four scores in tournaments.
He said teams are going to want to work out the kinks and show what they can do as soon as possible. A tournament he said to look out for this season is the Rutgers tournament because most MAAC teams are there to participate.
“Any team that goes to Rutgers,” said Falloon, “and that may be a very early measuring stick, wants to beat the other MAAC teams, wants to finish higher than them.”
He thinks the early tournaments could mean nothing because this is the most open conference he has coached in, but regards the Jaspers as a force.
“I think Manhattan fits in the top tier,” said Falloon.