Fox Chapel advances to WPIAL golf finals
Teams get nothing tangible when they finish first at the WPIAL golf semifinal tournaments.
There are no trophies or medals, which means the low scorers get the same thing as second and third place — an atta-boy and a free pass to the finals. And that's just fine with Fox Chapel, which finished second Tuesday in the semifinal at River Forest Country Club in Allegheny Township to move into the Class AAA final.
“The name of the game is to advance; that's what you're here for,” Foxes coach Bryan Deal said. “Now we're through and we're tied for first place.”
Led by senior Pat Sheerer, who carded a 5-over-par 76, and senior D.J. Dietrich who posted 78, Fox Chapel shot 398 to finish seven shots in back of Peters Township (391), last year's runner-up. The top three teams at each of two semifinal sites move into the finals Thursday at Cedarbrook Golf Course (Gold course) in Rostraver.
Indiana took third at 414.
Fox Chapel finished the regular season 15-0 and will now take aim at its first WPIAL title since 2006.
Players such as Sheerer have been bouncing back and forth between individual and team postseason events, something that involves a change in mindset and strategy.
“I have been doing that since I was a sophomore so I'm pretty used to it,” said Sheerer, who last week tied for fifth at the individual championship. “I always tell the guys that every shot matters. That three instead of a four or seven instead of an eight can make all the difference. If you have a bad hole, you can't worry about it.”
Rising Foxes freshman Anthony Cordaro played well at times during his first postseason team event, shooting 80.
“The individual semifinals helped me,” said Cordaro, who works closely with Oakmont amateur standout Sean Knapp, a longtime friend of his father. “I had four 3-putts, which didn't help me. At the turn I talked to Coach Deal and he said to relax because some of the scores were high. He helped settle me down.”
Senior Jordan Alfery and junior David Price matched 82s.
Alfery had to withdraw from the individual finals with a back injury. He said a week of physical therapy nursed him back to form and allowed him to play Tuesday.
“I didn't play my best and I felt like I let my team down a little bit,” Alfery said. “But I hadn't played in several days and was basically inactive. It felt weird on the range.”
River Forest isn't know for its length, but rather its tight, tree-lined holes that require accurate drives to avoid trouble off the tee. Players trying to pull off low-percentage shots from burdensome spots probably had regrets.
“You have to do what's best for the team,” Alfery said. “If you hit a bad shot, you take your medicine. You punch out and don't try to hit the miracle shot.
“We have confidence in each other. We have five guys who can shoot 75 or better.”
Deal said the team is playing well, despite a schedule that easily could leave his players in a daze.
“We haven't had many days off,” Deal said. “We had a couple make-ups and had a stretch where we played nine of 10 days.
“Today was like sudden death for five kids. For the seniors, if they don't advance, their season's over. This was the most important day of the year for our guys up to this point.”
Plum finished eighth (448) and Kiski Area was ninth (461).
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.