Sitting with a 3-11 record heading into the final match of the season — against perennial powerhouse Duxbury — head coach Brian Dempsey had a clear message for his Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ golf team.
“I simply told them to go out and have fun,” said the eighth-year head coach.
The match was senior night, to boot.
“Outside of them just trying to play smart and play for their pride, I asked each player to recognize the five seniors in the lineup and play for them,” Dempsey said.
And they did. Buoyed by a 3-over par 39 from junior Aidan Miller, the Panthers beat the Dragons for the third straight year, 268-270.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of the team for not only pulling off another upset win over Duxbury, but to do it after a really mentally draining season,” Dempsey said.
And a mentally draining season it was. W-H fell to Keenan Division champion Hingham by one stroke and narrowly fell to both Fisher Division co-champions, Hanover and Scituate, by three strokes and five strokes, respectively.
“I can’t really pinpoint exactly what kept us out of the win column more, but I think overall it was as simple as inconsistency,” Dempsey said. “Although we had a handful of golfers step up for us to lead the field in scoring throughout the season, it was rare that everyone had a performance like that on the same day. The few times that we did, we came within one stroke of taking down Hingham, we beat Duxbury, and earned our other three victories.”
Senior captain Matt Korzec and Miller led the way this season. Korzec was the Panthers’ top golfer and Miller was close behind. Korzec was the team’s lone league all-star, and Miller’s season didn’t end until the Division 2 state golf finals.
“They were less than half a of a stroke within each other in average over par,” Dempsey said. “Needless to say, they were a special duo.”
Both heavily embodied the team strength: character.
“From the important leadership of the captains, to the snacks provided by the generous parents after each match, to the goofy team text messages, this team was filled with a lot of character,” said Dempsey, whose team also received contributions from senior captains Ian Brown and Brian Fox as well as sophomores Chris Ross and Pat McBroom. “This year’s team was definitely that: a team. We’ve had a few really good teams in the past, but this year, I feel like everyone really meshed well and complemented each other’s play and personality.”
Dempsey said he firmly believes the team is in a good place heading into the offseason, but does have a lot of areas to grow.
“We have a lot of talented golfers who, should they decided to commit themselves to the game and put the time in, could really turn some heads moving forward,” said the coach. “I’m looking forward to working with a lot of these guys again next and seeing where they are at, but I’m also excited to see what kind of new talent comes out for the team.”
“Either way, I feel as though we’re in good hands moving forward because of the culture that our leaders on the team this year, and years prior, have helped to establish.”