PHS Boys' Golf Goes Undefeated; Dedication Portends Bright Future
By Bill Alden
As the wins mounted for the Princeton High boys' golf team this spring, coach Sheryl Severance feared that her team was bound to stumble at some point.
But that bad outing never came as the Little Tigers finished the season with a 17-0 record in dual matches, producing the program's first undefeated season in recent memory.
While Severance admitted that the winning streak put her on edge, she maintains that her sophomore-laden team was unfazed.
"It was getting really nerve-wracking," said Severance, recalling the latter stages of the season. "I kept thinking that they were going to fall apart at any time. But they were confident, they weren't worried a bit. Maybe it has to do with being young and feeling infallible."
Although the team was young, Severance sensed that the players had progressed a lot since their 11-7 season in 2003.
"I think the maturity of the sophomore group made a big difference," maintained Severance, who has been coaching the program for a decade. "They worked hard over the summer. They have grown up together and really play as a group. They compete against each other, they help each other. There is a real group dynamic."
In Severance's view, a key factor in the team's success was its collective commitment to the game. "They decided golf was going to be their thing," added Severance, whose club won the Mercer County Tournament in mid-May when it edged WW/P-N in a playoff.
"Some of them gave up other sports like lacrosse and football. We really worked on the psychology of the game this spring, getting them to clear their head and work on having positive thoughts."
Severance credited the squad's only senior, Robert Jones, with setting the tone. "He was our guiding light," asserted Severance. "As a senior, he was a true leader. He started the season shooting in the low 40s and high 30s and he knew he had to play better to stay in the line-up. He really started to play well."
PHS got some of its best golf from sophomores Greg Heisen and Kyle Rasavage, whose 9-hole match averages were 38.1 and 38.2, respectively.
"Kyle is playing well, he hits a real long ball," said Severance, noting that sophomore Casey Huckel also played a key role as he got his match average down to 39.7. "Greg is more accurate in his game. His chipping and putting are outstanding."
The team did lose its focus a bit in the Group III Central Jersey/South Jersey state competition when it shot 343 and didn't come close to qualifying for the Tournament of Champions. Severance, though, believes the team's subpar effort in that competition will serve as a motivating tool.
"They didn't know what to expect that day, none of them had ever been there," explained Severance. "In the MCT, they know the other teams and players. In the states, they don't know most of the other teams or players. Now they have that experience. They will be very motivated and know what to expect the next time."
While Severance has high expectations for her young squad, the players are aiming even higher. "If they stay on track, they should be undefeated in the CVC," added Severance.
"They want to play the best competition in the state and they want to get known in the state as a good team. This is the type of group that can meet that challenge. They are committed to the game. They want to play in college, they see golf as their future."
And with players showing that kind of dedication, it appears that the PHS golf program has a very bright future.