St. Joseph’s golf team is among GMC’s elite

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — The St. Joseph High School golf team shot its best round last week when the team squared off against Piscataway.

The Falcons topped the Chiefs of Piscataway 162-177 to pull within a game of .500. With a record of 3-4, the team is faced with the task of winning three of their next four in order to qualify for the Meet of Champions.

The Meet of Champions begins May 11 and eligible teams must have a .600 record to qualify by the cutoff date of May 1.

"This is definitely an important week," St. Joseph head coach Ryan Lechner said. "We can still have some players qualify for the Meet of Champions for individuals, but we want to get in as a team."

The Falcons met up with Piscataway and Edison, two teams they have previously beaten, before playing host to Old Bridge at Royce Brook Country Club West today. Tomorrow they will face JFK at Metuchen Country Club.

"We need to beat Piscataway right away and get some confidence," Lechner said. "Playing at Metuchen twice this week will be a test. It’s a controlled course and position is so important. The greens are faster and there is a variety of holes to contend with."

Lechner knows the unpredictability of the sport and the importance of staying on the fairways.

"The day before we shot lights out against Piscataway, we lost to South Brunswick 185-191," he said. "Granted, it was cold and windy that day, but that is the way golf is."

Senior Kevin Ratondo elevated his game in the win over Piscataway. Ratondo was the team’s medalist, recording the lowest score. Ratondo also placed among the top 20 golfers at last week’s Viking Bunker Hill Invitational hosted by South Brunswick.

"Kevin is a consistent hitter," Lechner said. "He consistently puts the ball in play on the fairways and he has a steady game on the greens."

Junior Ed Degottal and senior Ryan Mack were also effective against Piscataway.

"Ed is a steady golfer and he scores for us every match," Lechner said. "Ryan shot well against Piscataway and recorded his lowest score against East Brunswick."

Senior captain Andy King and junior Nick Passafiume are the leaders of this year’s team in scoring and mental toughness.

"Nick is our number one guy," Lechner said. "Andy has been shooting relatively steady all season. He is a straight hitter who shoots in the low 40s. He has been struggling with his putter, but when he is on, he can shoot some low scores."

A pair of rookies to this year’s team has provided additional firepower. Senior Morven Rodrigues and senior Mike Pace are steadily improving as the season continues.

"Both of these guys are new additions and they are playing well lately," Lechner said. "Morven was playing lacrosse up until this year and Mike is one of the top hockey players in the state and we are happy to have them."

Around the corner from this week is the county championship. The GMC championship will take place from May 7-May 20. The team’s recent showing at the Viking Bunker Hill Invitational should be a predictor for their chances in the GMC Tournament.

"Only South Brunswick finished ahead of us among the local teams in the invitational," Lechner said. "We finished among the top 10 and we hope to build off that performance."