De­fense car­ries In­di­ans into show­down

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bruce Adams badams@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @mline­s­ports on Twit­ter

MARL­BOR­OUGH >> The Down­ing­town West girls’ golf team, in its first year in the Pioneer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, cap­tured the Pioneer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence team ti­tle Thurs­day with a 178-190 win over two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Hat­boro Hor­sham in the cham­pi­onship match at Ma­coby Run Golf Course.

Hat­boro Hor­sham had the af­ter­noon’s best scorer, se­nior Cas­sidy Gav­aghan, with a two-over-par on the front nine at Ma­coby Run, but six of the next seven best scores were shot by Whip­pets — Lily Byrne (43), Caitlin McGrinder (43), Grace Hickey (44), Sarah Fer­nan­des (48), Shan­non Halle (49) and Shae Cabaddu (51). Only the top four scores were needed for Down­ing­town West’s team to­tal, but the six scores were a tes­ta­ment to the Whip­pets’ depth of tal­ent.

McGrinder, a ju­nior, said, “When Grace [Hickey] and I were fresh­men, we joined the Down­ing­town West [boys] team. It be­came a co-ed team, and we kept bring­ing other girls out.”

Last fall, there were close to a dozen girls on the Down­ing­town co-ed golf team ros­ter, so this year the Whip­pet girls de­cided to take the plunge and join the PAC girls’ golf loop. Down­ing­town West went un­de­feated (8-0) in the PAC this fall, and en­tered the PAC team tour­na­ment as the No. 1 seed (Hat­boro Hor­sham was No. 2).

Nei­ther team in the cham­pi­onship fi­nal had played Ma­coby Run, a one-time farm that was con­verted to a golf course 25 years ago. The course fea­tures some dra­matic el­e­va­tion el­e­va­tion changes (par­tic­u­larly at

hole Nos. 3, 4 and 9) and some blind shots (par­tic­u­larly from the No. 6 red tees). Un­der­stand­ably, the vic­to­ri­ous Whip­pets found the chal­leng­ing course more to their lik­ing af­ter Thurs­day’s round than did the run­ner-up Hat­ters.

“I re­ally liked the course — it’s pretty and wideopen,” said Byrne. “The greens are tough, and the breaks on them are hard.”

The high­light of Byrne’s round was a near-birdie on the sharply down­hill par 3 No. 4 hole, which mea­sures 110 yards from the red tees. Byrne hit a pitch­ing wedge with a half-swing, and got the ball to within about 15 feet of the hole, then barely missed her birdie putt.

“There are some tricky holes here, some up-and­down holes [in el­e­va­tion] and tricky greens,” said Hickey, who nar­rowly missed a birdie on No. 6, a 345-yard par 5, when she hit driver, 5-iron and and sand wedge to nine feet, just miss­ing the putt.

“It’s a very in­ter­est­ing course,” said McGrinder, who ac­knowl­edged, along with her team­mates, that Ma­coby Run in­cluded some blind shots.

McGrinder struck the ball well enough to have make­able birdie putts on three holes — on No. 4, she hit a 60-de­gree wedge to eight feet; at No. 7 (a 268yard par 4) she hit driver and a 60-de­gree wedge to nine feet; and on No. 8 (a 285-yard par 4) she hit driver and 9-iron to 12 feet.

Fer­nan­des, who shot a 48 to com­plete the scor­ing for Down­ing­town West, said, “I thought the course was re­ally pretty. It’s easy to ad­just to — even though none of us have played it be­fore, af­ter a cou­ple of holes you get the feel of it.”

Down­ing­town West de­feated Hat­boro Hor­sham, 185-212, in a reg­u­lar-sea­son match Sept. 7.

Thurs­day, Hat­boro Hor­sham was led by Gav­aghan, who just missed a birdie on No. 3, which is rated the tough­est hole on the course. It’s a 386-yard (from the red tees) par 5 that has a creek run­ning across the fair­way about 200 yards from the tee. At the creek bed, trees pinch both sides of the fair­way. Be­yond the creek, the fair­way rises abruptly to a green that slopes from back to front.

Gav­aghan nav­i­gated the tough third hole with a 5-wood off the tee, then a 6-iron, then a sand wedge to 12 feet. She just missed her birdie putt. On the ninth hole, a down­hill 184-yard par 3, she hit a 6-iron to about 10 feet, but missed the birdie putt.

“I thought I hit the ball well to­day,” said Gav­aghan, who fin­ished sec­ond in the PAC in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onship Sept. 27 with a 73 at Gil­bertsville. “But my putting hasn’t been that great the last few weeks.”

Round­ing out the scor­ing for Hat­boro Hor­sham Thurs­day af­ter­noon was Hai­ley Phillips (46), Cameron Fisher (52), An­nie Grif­fith (54) and Sheila Fisher (54). Only one of the 54s counted to­ward the Hat­boro Hor­sham to­tal.

Down­ing­town West coach Mike Lad­den, the Direc­tor of Golf at Whit­ford Coun­try Club, said, “Last year, our girls weren’t quite ready to join the PAC. But over the past sum­mer they put in a lot of hard work, and com­ing over to the PAC was the right move for this year.”

“I re­ally liked the course — it’s pretty and wideopen. The greens are tough, and the breaks on them are hard.” — Down­ing­town West’s Lily Byrne

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Down­ing­town West’s Grace Hickey putts dur­ing Thurs­day’s PAC Cham­pi­onship match against Hat­boro-Hor­sham at Ma­coby Run Golf Course.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Down­ing­town West’s Shae Cabadda chips onto the green Thurs­day at the PAC Cham­pi­onship.

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