Golf: Pair of local golfers drove Mt. St. Joe to the top

Mount St. Joseph senior Sean Boyle and junior David Long have been partners on the varsity golf team for the past three seasons, bringing the Gaels to a pair of Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament championship berths.

Last month, the Catonsville residents took it a step further by helping the Gaels claim their second MIAA title.

The only other crown came in 2004 when Matt Bassler was the top player for the champions.

Bassler went on to win the Maryland State Open after graduation and has since won five club championships at the Rolling Road Golf Club, including the 2011 title.

Boyle, the No. 1 Gael golfer, and Long, who played No. 2, are members at Rolling Road Golf Club along with junior teammates Stewart Rodriguez and Jason Haslem and sophomore Anthony DiNapoli.

Although Rodriguez, DiNapoli and seniors Harrison Pollak, Charlie Kerr and Corey Turner didn't play as part of the top six in the Gaels' 12-9 championship match victory over Archbishop Spalding at Caves Valley Golf Club, they were key components of the roster's deep depth.

"Ten of our 11 golfers average less than 80," said coach Mike Dooley, in his 19th season.

The team was so well-balanced that Dooley had a one-day competition to determine the No. 5 and No. 6 golfers in the championship match.

Haslem earned the No. 5 position and classmate Sean Cunningham earned the No. 6 slot.

"I said 'Here's your opportunity,' " Dooley said.

The pair earned 5 1/2 points out of a possible seven points against Spalding.

Those positions only earned 1 1/2 points during the regular season's 11-10 loss to Spalding on the Gaels' home course at Rolling Road.

Sophomores Jake Leavitt, No. 3, and Cody Lissner, No. 4, also contributed three points for the champions in the final while Boyle and Long earned 3 1/2 points.

Boyle won all three points in his individual match and Long helped the duo earn the better-ball half-team point with a birdie on the 18th hole.

Boyle won his match, 3-0, and Long lost his by the same score to eventual MIAA individual champion Chirs Navarro.

Long, who was second in the MIAA individual tournament, reached the par-five 18th in two strokes and two-putted for the birdie.

Dooley was the least surprised by his decision to go for the green on the final hole.

"He is tenacious," Dooley said. "He's kind of fearless and he's a big driver of the ball and he has a very good short game. He has a bulldog mentality."

Boyle, who was 14th in the individual tournament, is more conservative.

"Sean is the quiet assassin," Dooley said. "He just goes about his business. His personality is less tenacious than David's, but he's no less competitive."

Against Spalding, Boyle blanked Kyle Berkshire, the son of Crofton Country club owner Bill Berkshire.

"Sweeping him was one of the reasons we won," Dooley said.

Boyle also led the squad in support of assistant coach Mike Duffy after his 23-year old daughter, Kelly, died in a car accident in April.

"Sean was the leader of the team when the whole team went in uniform to the viewing, and Mike really appreciated that," Dooley said. "We had an emotional year as a team, and for that to happen in the middle of the season was so sad."

Duffy and Dooley were there behind the ninth green at the championship match against Spalding and they had doubts whether the Gaels could pull out a victory.

"Mike said 'We would almost have to win all the (final three) holes down the stretch to win the match," Dooley recalled.

The teams made some critical pars on the 10th hole and all three duos had birdies on the final two holes to snatch the win.

"Our experience showed," Dooley said.

With each group's success, the other pairs grew more confident and gained momentum.

"They kind of fed off each other," Dooley said. "They could hear the cheers because the groups were so closely bunched together."

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