Two strokes made the difference in determining a state champion last season in Class 2A.
And the tussle was between two of the best in Broward County girls’ golf.
A young Archbishop McCarthy squad came up short by two swings of the golf club to rival American Heritage, which claimed its state-record sixth state title.
The good news for the Mavericks is most of those girls are back.
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"I’m really looking forward to this year," Archbishop McCarthy coach Carl Phillips said. "We should do really well and it should be a lot of fun."
McCarthy returns its top six players from that Class 2A state runner-up squad and figures to challenge for its first state crown.
American Heritage won’t give up the throne easily, however.
Seniors Alejandra Merchan, Lorena DeAntonio and Sunny Li lead a talented squad in 2015 that should benefit from an experienced group of underclassmen.
The top of the Mavericks’ lineup is no slouch either.
Depth could be a decisive strength for McCarthy, however.
Junior Georgette Garcia finished seventh at state last season (best among returning Broward golfers) and is joined by fellow juniors Christen Simons, Katya Barahona, Brooke Benedetto and Julia Matzat, a transfer from St. Thomas Aquinas. Senior Michelle Rodriguez also has experience in the lineup.
"Our girls are really good at the top of our lineup," American Heritage boys’ coach Brandt Moser said. "Both McCarthy and our lineups – one through six – are solid so it will be interesting."
In Class 3A, Cypress Bay appears to be a favorite to emerge as the county’s top girls team.
Senior Josefina Haupt finished 15th at state last year, and leads the Lightning along with Brianna Buckley and Gabriela Ferre.
Individually North Broward Prep’s junior Hannah Leiner had a fantastic summer, placing in the top two at several tournaments and qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
American Heritage completed a state title sweep last season as its boys also won it all in Class 2A.
The Patriots graduated three of their top seniors, however, including two-time state champion Jorge Garcia. Senior Ty Strafaci, a Georgia Tech commitment, leads a group that is still one of the best in the state. Moser said Strafaci is playing at the U.S. Amateur tournament in Chicago this week and he competed at the U.S. Junior National tournament in South Carolina earlier this summer.
Newcomers Jonathan Cachon, a junior, and Daniel Gonzalez-Quevedo should bolster the Patriots’ lineup.
American Heritage’s Invitational marks the first major tournament of the season. It will be held Tuesday at Lago Mar Golf Course.
Several of the county’s top golfers graduated, but St. Thomas Aquinas should have enough to make a run at state in Class 3A led by senior Matt Galluzzo.
Aug. 24: Regular season meets begin; Aug. 25: American Heritage Invitational at Lago Mar; Aug. 26: Westminster Christian Invitational; Aug. 28: Lady Maverick Invitational; Sept. 29: Crutchfield/Hawkins Invitational; Oct. 10-11: Honda Classic at PGA National; Oct. 12-14: Districts; Oct. 19-21: Regionals; Oct. 27-28: Class 1A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills; Oct. 30-31: Class 2A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills; Nov. 3-4: Class 3A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills
DEFENDING STATE BOYS’ CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: Lake Mary; 2A: Plantation American Heritage; 1A: Winter Park Circle Christian.
DEFENDING STATE GIRLS’ CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: Melbourne Viera; 2A: Plantation American Heritage; 1A: Lake Mary Prep.
TOP RETURNING BOYS’ GOLFERS
Julian Boros, Cardinal Gibbons, So.; Jonathan Cachon, American Heritage, Jr.; Matt Galluzzo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.; Zach Mendez, Calvary Christian, Sr.’ Turner Grass, American Heritage, Sr.; Daniel Gonzalez-Quevedo, American Heritage, Sr.; Ty Strafaci, American Heritage, Sr.; Anthony Wells, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.
TOP RETURNING GIRLS’ GOLFERS
Lorena De Antonio, American Heritage, Sr.; Katya Barahona, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.; Brooke Benedetto, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.; Brianna Buckley, Cypress Bay, Sr.; Gabriela Ferre, Cypress Bay, Sr.; Georgette Garcia, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.; Josefina Haupt, Cypress Bay, Sr.; Hannah Leiner, North Broward Prep, Jr.; Sunny Li, American Heritage, Sr.; Julia Matzat, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.; Alejandra Merchan, American Heritage, Sr.; Michelle Rodriguez, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Christen Simons, Archbishop McCarthy, Jr.; Casey Weidenfeld, American Heritage, 7; Sam Haubenstock, Pine Crest, Sr.
PRESEASON TEAM RANKINGS
Boys: 1. American Heritage; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas; 3. Cardinal Gibbons; 4. Douglas; 5. Cypress Bay.
Girls: 1. American Heritage; 2. Archbishop McCarthy; 3. Cypress Bay; 4. Douglas; 5. Pine Crest.
BOYS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOKS
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Coach Mike McIntosh, 13th year, 143-27-2). Last year: 13-5 (District champions). Top golfers: Matt Galluzzo, Sr.; Joe Lewis, So.; Kevin Cuervo, Sr.; Iker Corricho, Sr.; James Greco, Jr.; Gabe Weigand, Jr.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Brandt Moser, 21st year, 300-63). Last year: 25-2 (State champions). Top golfers: Ty Strafaci, Sr.; Daniel Gonzalez-Quevedo, Sr.; Jonathan Cachon, Jr.; Turner Grass, Sr.; Wade Howard, Jr.; John Gregor, So.; Derek Li, So.; Jeroen Kleinsman, So.; Adamo DiTullio, Fr.; Jude Kim, 8th.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Carl Phillips). Top golfers: Anthony Wells, Jr.; Nick Badyna, Sr.; Bolivar Perez, Sr.; Sebastian Nevarez, Sr.; Justin Nicholson, Sr.; Case Hinesley, Fr.
CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Kevin Groenveld, 1st year). Last year: 24-5 (Regional, district champs). Top golfers: Zach Mendez, Sr.; Jason Langer, So.; Josh Downing, Sr.; Chris Schuack, Jr.
NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Ross Devonport, 2nd year, 6-4). Last year: 6-4. Top golfers: Justin Shiao, Jr.; Jeremy Rauch, Jr.; Hunter Hoersch, Jr.; Nick O’Bryan, Fr.
PINE CREST (Coach Pam Elders, 9th year at PC, 11th overall). Last year: 8-4 (District, regional runner-up). Top golfers: Dominic Cabrera, Fr.; Justin Friedman, Sr.; Miles Castoro, Jr.; Dylan Glatt, 8th; Matt Jacobs, Sr.; Justin Daedonsky, Jr.
SAGEMONT (Coach Marco Salemi, 2nd year). Top golfers: Kade Cannon, 8th; Val Salemi, 8th; Tyler Pham, So.; Taye Pham, So.; Kolby Nguyen, 8th.
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (Coach Christopher Granger, 2nd year, 10-4). Last year: 10-4 (Regional runner-up). Top golfers: Samuel Bennett, Sr.; Gabriel Porges, Fr.; Jacky Esquenazi, Jr.; Ruben Echevarria, Sr.; Ruben Echevarria, Sr.; Tori Bien, 8th; A.J. Wolf, So.
GIRLS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOKS
CYPRESS BAY (Coach Todd Nelson). Last year: 10-1 (Third at state). Top golfers: Josefina Haupt, Sr.; Brianna Buckley, Sr.; Gabriela Ferre, Sr.; Arianna Presilla, Sr.; Andrea Presilla, Jr.; Gabriella Soares, So.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Linda Sibio). Last year: 25-6 (State champions). Top golfers: Alejandra Merchan, Sr.; Lorena DeAntonio, Sr.; Sunny Li, Sr.; Charlie Woodcock, So.; Alena Lindh, Fr.; Ana Maria Lopez, 8th; Casey Weidenfeld, 7th; Jillian Boudage, 8th; Ana Sofia Rodriguez Macias, Jr.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Carl Phillips). Last year: State runner-up. Top golfers: Katya Barahona, Jr.; Brooke Benedetto, Jr.; Georgette Garcia, Jr.; Julia Matzat, Jr.; Michelle Rodriguez, Sr.; Christen Simons, Jr.; Cash Sommers, So.; Lexi Leon, So.
NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Henry Cole, 7th year). Last year: 8-4. Top golfers: Hannah Leiner, Jr.; Virginia Paglialunga, Sr.; Emma Rabinowitz, So.; Emma Rabinowitz, So.; Mia Viau, 8th; Kelly Shanahan, 6th.