Victory brings title talk from AACC golf coach

April 05, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

It didn't take long for the superlatives to start rolling off the tongue of Anne Arundel Community College golf coach Cal Peterson.

One match, and he could barely contain his excitement.

"We're going to have a good one this year," he said, after the Pioneers shot a 324 against Prince George's last Thursday on XTC the Lake Arbor course in Landover.

"This was our best opening score in 10 seasons. I really think this may be the best team we've ever had here, and I think we stand a chance of getting a piece of the national title."

The closest Anne Arundel has come to doing that was in 1984, when state and regional championships were counted among the 27 victories accumulated that season. The Pioneers finished 16th at the nationals.

Peterson actually felt good about this team even before the season began. What transpired against Prince George's simply reinforced everything he believed.

His No. 1 golfer, St. Mary's graduate Matt Tengwall, struggled and shot an 82. No. 2 player Matt Hoffman (Old Mill) also had an off-day and shot a 79.

And the Pioneers still won, which their coach took as an encouraging sign.

He knows Tengwall and Hoffman, both scratch golfers, will have better days. And Chris Niemi (Arundel) at No. 3 and John Lowdon (South River), the team's lone sophomore, at No. 4 will put up impressive scores.

"We had informal practice in the fall, and just by knowing the history of these players and the background on them, and then talking with them, they had the intensity and verbal desire to do well," said Peterson, in his 24th season at Anne Arundel.

"All they need now is seasoning in the competition. In high school, they're doing a lot of nine-hole matches. Some people still do match play rather than medal play. Here, you're straight up, man-for-man, player-for-player. It takes a lot more concentration, the competition is a lot stiffer and it takes a good psychological mind set for these guys to do well."

Peterson has three other players vying for two slots: Chris Smith, Brian Jones and Rob Feisler. Niemi shot an 80 last week, and Lowdon shot an 81.

"It could be interesting to see who is that sixth man, the alternate," Peterson said. "I told these guys, I only carry six on the team. Financially, I could carry 10, but it's not fair to you when it comes time for regionals and everyone is packing to go on the trip and I say, 'Sorry, you can't go.' It's the same thing if we qualify for nationals. You can take five guys, plus one %J alternate. To me, that would be very disheartening to the player to say that to him. And it's an incentive for them to really try to do the best they can to get to that alternate position."

Many of Peterson's teams in the past have had the same kind of potential that he envisions this year, but "they were very up and down. I think there's more consistency with in this group," he said. "The other day, four of the guys did not shoot to their potential, and yet we were able to pull that kind of score, which really is a moral builder for your team.

"The biggest thing they have is good mental control. They don't lose their temper. They're very aggressive and tough-minded. This was just one match, but after 20-some years of coaching both golf and football, you sort of get an idea of the mental composition of these guys."

Peterson isn't keeping his enthusiasm a secret from his players. They know precisely what he expects of them, and he believes they can deal with it.

"I told them, 'You gentlemen have the potential of being one of the few teams at Anne Arundel Community College, in the history of the school, that will be able to get a piece of the national title if you continue like you're doing. But it takes attitude and determination,' " he said.

"They're very confident in themselves, but they're not cocky."

The Pioneers' next match is Thursday, at Eisenhower in Crownsville, against Garrett. They travel to Essex next Tuesday.

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