May 3, 2023

Coming Through in Dramatic Playoff, PHS Boys’ Golf Wins MCT Championship

CROWNING MOMENT: Members of the Princeton High boys’ golf team are all smiles as they won the Mercer County Tournament last week at the Mercer Oaks West course. The squad tied Allentown at 299 through 18 holes and then won the title after carding the lowest score on the first hole in a 10-man playoff. It marked the program’s first MCT crown since 2007. Pictured, from left, are Walter Gumbinger, Brooks Cahill-Sanidas, Wes Yonish, Peter Eaton, Benji Tarter, and head coach Pat Noone.

By Bill Alden

For Pat Noone, it had the feel of a movie scene when his Princeton High boys’ golf team faced Allentown in a 10-man playoff after the foes had tied for first at the Mercer County Tournament last week at the Mercer Oaks West course.

“It was cool because you had 200 people standing around watching, it looked like something out of the Legend of Bagger Vance,” said PHS head coach Noone, whose squad and the Redbirds both had a score of 299 at the end of the 18-hole competition. “It was a great atmosphere.”

The Tigers came through in the playoff, winning the first hole by one stroke as they carded three pars and a bogey while the Redbirds had two pars and two bogeys.

In Noone’s view, the team’s familiarity with the playoff format helped it prevail.

“The funny thing was that we got into the same thing last year at the state sectional when we won it,” said Noone. “We had a 10-man playoff also, so maybe we were a little bit used to it.”

Winning the county title was special on many levels for the Tigers since they had placed second in the 2022 MCT and last won the title in 2007.

Junior star Brooks Cahill-Sanidas led the way for PHS, tying for third individually with a two-under 70 while senior Wes Yonish placed fifth in 72 and junior Peter Eaton took 15th with a 76. Benji Tarter placed 24th with an 81 while Walter Gumbinger fired an 84 to tie for 32nd.

“It is huge, we won the CVC match play in 2021 and these guys kind of all came in with me,” said Noone. “Brooks was a freshman, Pete was a freshman, Benji was a freshman, Wes was a sophomore. It was the first year I was on with coach [Sheryl] Severance. We have grown together. We got the match play championship and the sectional championship and now we have this championship too. It has just been such a good thing they have been building.”

In his second year at the helm of the program after succeeding the legendary Severance, Noone minimizes his role in the team’s building process.

“It is pretty cool, it is the guys who put in the work,” said Noone. “I get to be in a practice with them and watch them play. It is the work they put in. I just sign the scorecard and call it a day.”

The play of Cahill-Sanidas has made a big difference for the Tigers.

“First of all, our No. 1 Brooks, has worked his tail off and has gotten so good,” said Noone. “He is so deserving because of his effort and work.”

Yonish and Eaton stepped up when it counted at the MCT.

“Peter and Wes were big, important pieces to our team last year and they didn’t play so well in the MCT; that was on me for not getting enough 18-hole tournaments,” said Noone.

“We got one in Wall early in the year and they played a little bit better but they still weren’t where they wanted to be. For those two guys, it was such a honor for them to do what they did. In today’s day and age, kids are likely to quit when they hit roadblocks. It is unbelievable what Wes did. He kept working and working and he gets a 72. Pete was the same way, it is so easy to get frustrated but he kept working.”

A key factor in the squad’s success is the way the players have come together.

“They work so hard and they get along so well,” said Noone.

“They have a special bond. They really pull for each other, they are always working together. Practices are so much fun, they are always going to eat afterward. You hear at the end of practice, Jersey Mike’s, WaWa, Brooks leads the charge. They are always together, it is really cool. It is great that the work paid off, a lot of times the work doesn’t pay off.”

With PHS slated to start state play by competing in a sectional on May 9, Noone believes his squad’s work will keep paying off.

“We are in a really good place; the MCT is great but seeing them get better is really awesome,” said Noone. “Nobody gets frustrated when they play bad, they don’t get upset. They keep rebounding — the resilience is awesome.”