NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Two years ago, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's golf team won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship and earned the GNAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships.
The Corsairs will try to win the second GNAC title in three years when they compete at the conference championships this weekend. The two-day, 36-hole tournament begins Saturday at the Blackstone National Golf Course in Sutton, MA and is hosted by Anna Maria College. The teams will play a practice round Friday, and conclude the tournament Sunday.
"We've been working hard in practice, but so far, it hasn't translated into success in our tournament play," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Joel Baptista. "We struggled a little bit at Johnson & Wales after having a decent tournament at Southern Maine. Hopefully, we put together two good days of golf this weekend and make a run at the championship."
The course can be challenging. "It's difficult," said Baptista. "It's hilly, and usually has quick greens, and how it plays can be dependent on the weather. There won't be an advantage to any of the teams, and we're fortunate that we'll be able to get in a practice round before the tournament."
The competition won't be easy. "Rhode Island College is the champion until someone knocks them off," said Baptista. "They return everyone from last year's championship team, and Southern Maine has thrown out some great numbers this year as well. Those are two formidable teams standing in our way, but I think we can play with them. We have to minimize our mistakes, take advantage of our opportunities, and make sure we stay in it mentally for 18 holes."
The Corsairs' previous championship experience could be beneficial. "We have some people from our last championship team, and that bodes well for us," said Baptista. "It comes down to two rounds of golf, and we're looking to put together our best two rounds of the year. It's very important to get off to a good start. We can't be 11 shots behind after day one and try to make that up; we need to be in the hunt."
UMASS DARTMOUTH GOLF