LAKE TWP. The Lake boys golf team sprinted out of the gate this season with a fast start, took a narrow loss in a key match and now has to find a way to regain its momentum.
Heading into their match with Federal League rival Jackson earlier this month, the Blue Streaks were undefeated and seeking a win that would give them control of the league race. Winning the Federal League has been as tough in boys golf as in any sport of late, with Jackson and Green both turning out their share to top players over the past several years.
"We really wanted to win (against Jackson), but maybe that set us up to refocus and get us back to working toward our ultimate goals," Lake head coach Thom Grubb said.
The defeat, which saw Lake shoot a team score of 158 to Jackson's 148, wasn't a terrible score for the Blue Streaks. It was a bit off their normal level of performance and against a top opponent, that made the difference.
As they move on from that loss and move toward the postseason, the Blue Streaks continue to believe that from the first through the last players in their lineup, they have a talented base that has them well-positioned for tournament success.
"We've told them all year long, our depth is our strength," Grubb said. "Our fifth or sixth man, when we're counting their score it helps us while some teams don't have a fifth or sixth man who can do that."
The leader for the Blue Streaks is senior Alex Anderson, whose scoring average has hovered around 75 for 18 holes all season long.
Grubb pointed to Anderson's solid ball striking and proficiency chipping and putting as the core of his success. Another reason for Anderson's strong play, according to his coach, is the experience he gained reaching the state tournament as an individual last season.
"There's no doubt it helped him and he also put time in playing lot of summer golf," Grubb said.
Along with junior Joseph Evans, freshman Jack Armstrong, sophomore Cam Horning and seniors Sullivan Ochs and Anthony Bailey, Anderson has formed a consistent lineup all season long.
That group powered Lake to a big win over Green, which boasts standout Max Moldovan, one of the area's top amateur golfers. Moldovan played in the Lake match, but wasn't in the lineup when the Bulldogs took on Jackson because he was competing in the U.S. Amateur tournament.
In the wake of the Jackson loss, Grubb delivered a reminder to his team of where they stand in the bigger picture of the season.
"I talked to them and told them all of our goals are still in place," Grubb said. "We can still can be league champs, we can still win sectionals and then go on and win Pine Hills (regional tournament) and go on to the state tournament."
Doing so would add another chapter to the growing track record of success for both Lake and the Federal League overall in the postseason. The Blue Streaks have sent four teams to the state tournament during Grubb's tenure and a fifth trip to Columbus is within reach.