Melrose finishes their season undefeated at 8-0

Published November 13, 2020

SENIORS CAPTAINS Thomas Brodeur (second from left) Quinn McCarthy (third from left) and Will Pierce (far right with coach Rick McDermott) reflect on their years-long run as ML champs. (file photo)


MELROSE—The Melrose High golf team’s unpredictable season came to an unpredictable end last week after flawless weeks of play. The Red Raiders have become unofficial league champs after longtime rival Wakefield canceled their two, season-ending matches against Melrose. Both teams had been awaiting the highly-anticipated matches to determine the winner of the Freedom League. Melrose (8-0) and Wakefield (7-0) had a lot at stake when they were scheduled to play at Thompson Country Club and Bellevue Country Club last week. But due to COVID-related concerns on the Warrior squad, Wakefield effectively forfeited their two matches, ending both team’s undefeated seasons. 

While it remains unclear if the Middlesex League is officially declaring league winners, Melrose certainly has the hallmarks of it, and now finish their season at the top of the league at 8-0. This would make them league champs for three straight seasons. Even more, they had the potential for a deep playoff run. Melrose would have been a North favorite and would have put a scare in folks at States. But like all competitive sport teams right now, they exist in a different world of competition. Certainly, they’re grateful they got a full season of play. There is a sense of great things unmet, however, and that’s because three of their top players, their senior captains, were at the pinnacle of their high school career and would have been a tremendous force in postseason play. 

Quinn McCarthy, Will Pierce and Thomas Brodeur have all gained statewide notice for their excellent play over the last 3-4 years. The group was a critical part of Melrose’s three-year streak as ML champs. Each has carved out their own unique accomplishments, making them some of the finest golfers to ever tee off for longtime Melrose High coach Rick McDermod. 

“I saw the potential for this team back when they were freshmen and sophomores,” says McDermod. “It was a pleasure to see them mold into a powerhouse team.” 

It didn’t happen overnight but took a season or so for them to come into their own. He says, “I remember when we first went to Sectionals their sophomore year, I had to gently explain to them that we didn’t have the numbers to qualify for states while there. There just weren’t enough kids to break 80. So, they learned the difference between a sectional team and a state-qualifying team. It was the best experience for them.” 

Last year, as the captains enjoyed their junior year, everything changed during their next trip to Sectionals. “Suddenly, Thomas [Brodeur] wins the whole thing!” laughs McDermod. “They elevated their game and rose to the occasion. They advanced to States and everyone knew about this team. And now, this season, we are at the next level. So, it hurts that these kids, especially our seniors, won’t get a chance to go further because the potential was limitless. Our starters were capable of shooting in the low 70’s. While I’m sure Winchester would have taken the whole thing, I think we could have placed in the top three. That’s how good this team was.”

Senior captain Will Pierce won the Middlesex League Shootout last season, and in his four years has remained a consistent top shooter on the team. Last season, he also placed in the top ten at the State finals. Thomas Brodeur shocked many last season when he became the North Sectional Champion as a junior. This season, he was also a consistent victor and is now eyeing playing club golf at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Quinn McCarthy earned the number one spot this season after years of skill and consistency. The multi-sport athlete also excels at hockey and is weighing a year of prep school to prepare for college hockey. 

Beyond the three’s considerable talents, Melrose had new faces this year that only increased their wattage. Some talented underclassmen and “loaned” football players made the difference this season. “I think this year’s team was the best so far,” says senior captain Quinn McCarthy. “We had a depth of lineup with the help of a couple of football players.” 

Fellow senior captain Thomas Brodeur agrees. “I think with the addition of the football kids [Brendan Fennell, Charlie Haggerty] we had a starting lineup that one of our best ever.”

“We had a well-rounded team,” adds senior captain Will Pierce. “Every spot was solid and earned points when we needed them. We’ve grown to be a dominant team in the Middlesex League.”

All three agree that playing Wakefield would have been great this season. “Beating Wakefield would have been a great way to end some of our careers,” says McCarthy, who saw the long prize too. “This was one of our best teams we have had, and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get a shot at the state title this year.” 

Brodeur echoes that sentiment. “I think we would have beaten Wakefield and gone 10-0.”

But for now, what they’ve accomplished in four years is something they will take with them forever. Says Pierce, “The past four years have been amazing. We accomplished a lot and got better each year.” Pierce would like to continue playing golf in college and is in the process of talking to college coaches about it. 

For coach Rick McDermod, saying goodbye to these three will be a gesture filled with gratitude. “All three brought something unique. Will Pierce is an incredible talent, and I’ll miss that Tiger Woods stinger shot that we all wish we got on tape. It was just the most perfect strike, nothing on television could match it. Thomas came to us in his sophomore year. I coached his dad, Nate. He’s a smart kid who displayed sheer determination and a love of the game. And Quinn showed potential for dominance in his freshman year. He turned it up this season. Probably one of the best putters around and well-known for it in the league. This kid doesn’t miss within ten feet.” 

While a chance for a state medal isn’t in the cards, coach McDermod can’t be too sour about it. “I wanted it for them, to get to that big stage in their senior year. But the future is bright, we have talent returning and you have to look at the big picture: look at how many kids aren’t playing sports at all this fall. We’re grateful.” 

And indeed the future is bright. Melrose has now established a long tradition of success for future Red Raider golfers to replicate. Senior Will Pierce had some good advice for kids who want to take up the sport.

“To get better you have to practice the short game. It’s the most important part of the game and will help you get those better scores. Be sure to have fun and don’t take it so seriously.”