THE MELROSE Red Raider golf team opened this week with two matches against Watertown and Wakefield. (file photo)
League champs returned victorious this week
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High golf team returns to the fall season as the reigning, undefeated Middlesex Freedom League champs after an incredible 7-0 season in 2020 that saw them sweep the competition during a restricted, condensed COVID-19 season. And they started their 2021 campaign off this week with a season opener win on the road at Watertown, 39.5-32.5.
Last season was the team’s first undefeated season since the 1980s and marked their third straight league title. Winning championships is getting pretty common for this club, coached by MHS legend Rick McDermod, and they will continue their campaign this week against Wakefield on Thursday (post deadline.) They open at home on Tuesday, Sept. 21 against Winchester at Mt. Hood.
Coach McDermod is simply glad there is once again a full schedule of golf, unlike the restricted 7 matches that were on tap last year because of COVID-19. And unlike last season, Melrose will be playing teams on both sides of the Middlesex League (large and small). While new faces and younger athletes make up much of this team, they will nonetheless remain competitive in an evenly-matched Middlesex Freedom League. While they graduated some top talent seniors, they return with some familiar faces that may make Melrose as competitive as ever. Senior captains Liam Gage and Brian Healy were a key part of last year’s unbeaten squad and will use their upperclass experience to guide Melrose this fall.
Says coach McDermod, “There will be a learning curve for our new players to some extent, but also a lot of opportunity for all these players. And we do have some depth.”
That includes their top shooters Pat Cotter (currently in the #1 spot) and junior transfer AJ Dell Isola (#2). Returners Roddy McGillicuddy and Jason Pino make up the third and fourth spots, respectively. Senior Dom Lamentea will start in the 5th spot. Freshman find Matthew Fuccione will get great experience in the number 6 spot, along with returners Brian Healy and Andrew Izzi. Look for Sean Donovan, Jack Lavery, Brendan Healy, Sean Thomas and Noah Fay to get time in the mix.
On Tuesday, when they traveled to Watertown to kick off their season, they relied on wins from Patrick Cotter, Jason Pino, Brian Healy and Andrew Izzi to get them to a 1-0 start. While pleased after the win, McDermott stressed that the team has areas to improve upon after the win.
Melrose will see most action at Mt. Hood before hosting a few matches at Bellevue in October.
“We will be competitive,” says McDermod. “Last year we had a real special team with great talent. Every year is different and we have some young, skilled players coming in and got a promising transfer too [AJ Dell Isola]. This first week will be a good sign of what’s to come.”
Melrose will travel to Wakefield on Thursday before opening at home at Mt. Hood on September 21.