by Ariel Pacheco
After coming off of a second place finish in last year’s MAAC Men’s golf championship, Manhattan’s golf team looks to build off of that impressive finish in this year’s upcoming MAAC golf championship.
“We’re ahead of last year’s pace,” said Frank Darby, who is in his second year as head coach of the golf program. “This is a very talented team that we have.”
The Jaspers had five players return from last year’s strong season. Coach Darby sees similarities between this year’s team and last year’s team in terms of how much success he believes they can achieve.
This year’s golf team was picked to finish in second place behind Siena in the annual MAAC preseason poll. The vote is made up of the league’s nine head coaches. While the team has failed to win an event up to this point of the season, there is still optimism that this season can be a special one.
“It was exciting to be picked second, I think we’re as good as Sienna and it’s going to be a really good competition,” Darby continued. “Not winning last year I think is driving the guys to make sure they are one hundred percent prepared to win it this year.”
The golf team has dealt with some tough challenges up to this point in the season. Bad weather in some events has led to some disappointing performances. Also Jon Keyes, a senior, has had a broken leg that has caused him to miss time. Still, with the MAAC golf championship just about two weeks away, Coach Darby is confident that this team is more than capable of beating last year’s finish and coming out on top.
If there is one strength this team has, it’s experience. Coach Frank Darby was previously the golf coach at St. John’s University for 21 years before coming to Manhattan College. The roster is made up of seven players, six of which are either juniors or seniors with the seventh being a freshman. In addition, last year’s second place finish in the MAAC golf championship makes this team seasoned and prepared to compete.
The golf team is dedicating this year’s MAAC championship to Father George Hill, who passed away last September. “He was like our mentor and spiritual leader,” said Coach Darby. The players and Coach Darby plan on honoring his memory because of what he meant to not only the golf team, but the entire community.
The team’s previous event saw them finish in 13th out of 19 teams. They have had two second place finishes up until this point in some smaller events. Still, the team’s strongest performance of the season may have been the very first event of the season, where the Jaspers finished in fourth out of 14 teams.
The next outing for the golf team will take place on Friday, April 14th and end on Saturday, April 15th in North Carolina. The Jaspers are hoping to win their first event of the season in the last event before the MAAC championship which takes place from April 21st to April 23rd. The team hopes to use this event as a springboard into a strong finish of the season.