All throughout the regular season, Staples, Greenwich and Danbury had established themselves as the class of FCIAC girls' golf.
Staples' lone dual match loss this season came at the hands of Greenwich. The Cardinals only two losses came via the Wreckers and the Hatters. And Danbury? They only lost to Staples (twice) and Greenwich.
So, as the three squads prepared for the FCIAC championship at Fairchild Wheeler, along with Warde and Ridgefield, it was expected to be yet another three-way fight to the finish.
And it was.
Thanks to two amazing rounds from junior Alexandra Sazhin, who captured individual medalist honors with a one-over-par 74 and sophomore Catherine McEvoy, who carded a 6-over-79, Greenwich held on to win the FCIAC tournament title with a team total of 342, edging second place Staples (345) by three strokes and Danbury (349) by seven.
"The back nine here is tough, it's a real struggle," said Greenwich coach Marie Shimchick. "They really have to grind it out because they're walking so many hills, carrying a bag that's got to feel like it weighs a ton of bricks by the time they get to the 18th hole, so I'm just so proud of them."
It was the third straight FCIAC tournament title for the Cardinals, who have now won four of the last five FCIAC crowns. Along with Sazhin's 74 and McEvoy's 79, Greenwich (ranked No. 2 in the state by the CIAC) got solid rounds from Pamela Jennemyr (92) and Kendall Nethercott (97) over the 5,234-yard, par-73 Black Course at the Wheel, which many of the girls were playing for the first time.
"I'm not really sure what was working. It was a nerve-wracking round," Sazhin said. "I missed two putts that were literally less than a foot, so I could have done better. I really think I was strong mentally. I was able to focus on each shot and as a result, I could get my drive in a good position and then think smart about the next shot."
For Staples -- currently ranked No. 1 in the state by the CIAC -- they were led by Faith Garcia, who shot an 83. Garcia was followed by Anelise Brown (85), Marie McHugh (86) and Mary Bennewitz (91). Danbury (No. 7 according to the CIAC) was led by Liz Pena with an 84, Andrea Stock (88), Faith Mancuso (88) and Katelyn Mooney (89) -- personal bests for all four Hatters' players.
"I was very proud of the girls," Staples coach Bob Byiteck said. "I was very proud of the team and proud of the scores. We will regroup from this and head into the state championship as the number one team and finish the state championship as the number one team." Ridgefield (389) finished fourth and Warde (404) finished fifth.
Darien's Julianna Lee, playing as an individual, finished early and posted a solid 9-over-par 82, fourth-best among the 29 golfers competing.
"My chipping and putting were solid and I was able to get up and down," Lee said. "Every time I found the rough I was able to get out well enough to put me in a good position for the next shot." The FCIAC tournament was an 18-hole stroke play event, a drastic change for girls that play just 9-hole tournaments all spring long.
"Nine holes and 18 holes are two totally different games," Shimchick said. "With nine holes, you have to be good right away. You've go to be able to be ready on that very first tee and with 18 holes, you've got some time to recover but it's a totally different mindset." One that the Cardinals mastered yet again.
FCIAC GIRLS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Fairchild Wheeler (Black Course)
5,234 yards, par-73
TEAM SCORES (Top 4 scores used)
Greenwich (342): Alexandra Sazhin (74), Catherine McEvoy (79), Pamela Jennemyr (92), Kendall Nethercott (97), Ashley Feighery (110). Staples (354): Faith Garcia (83), Anelise Brown (85), Marie McHugh (86), Mary Bennewitz (91), Alex McMahon (98). Danbury (349): Liz Pena (84), Faith Marcuso (88), Andrea Stock (88), Katelyn Mooney (89), Danielle Polinchock (93). Ridgefield (389): Rachel Corry (77), Casey Snow (101), Lily Damron (101), Megan Gold (110), Laura Kudera (113). Warde (404): Sarah Vimini (92), Bailey Cooke (101), Nadia Caputo (105), Erica de la Garrigue (106), Kathleena Inchoco (115)
74: Alexandra Sazhin, Greenwich (medalist). 77: Rachel Corry, Ridgefield. 79: Catherine McEvoy, Greenwich. 82: Julianna Lee, Darien. 83: Faith Garcia, Staples. 84: Liz Pena, Danbury. 85: Anelise Brown, Staples. 86: Marie McHugh, Staples. 88: Andrea Stock, Danbury, Faith Marcuso, Danbury. 89: Katleyn Mooney, Danbury. 91: Mary Bennewitz, Staples. 92: Sarah Vimini, Warde, Pamela Jennemyr, Greenwich. 93: Danielle Polinchock, Danbury. 95: Lexi Brown, Trumbull. 97: Kendall Nethercott, Greenwich. 98: Alex McMahon, Staples. 99: Sarah Gander, Ludlowe. 101: Lily Damron, Ridgefield, Bailey Cooke, Warde, Casey Snow, Ridgefield. 105: Nadia Caputo, Warde. 108: Tessa Piontkowski, New Canaan. 110: Megan Gold, Ridgefield, Ashley Feighery, Greenwich. 113: Laura Kudera, Ridgefield. 115: Kathleena Inchoco, Warde.