STAC GOLF: CORNING'S NEALLY TAKES 2ND AT STAC CHAMPIONSHIPS, HELPS HAWKS FINISH 2ND (24 PHOTOS)
(2021-10-12)By Brian FeesSouthern Tier Sports Report
ELMIRA — All season long Luca Neally has been the leader for the Corning golf team.
He’s been a constant in the lineup, putting up low scores week after week.
Then came last week, and Neally wasn’t happy with his round.
He shot an 88 at Soaring Eagles, a round that many golfers would be fine with, but that left Neally wanting more.
This week he got more, a lot more, as he shot a 77 at the STAC Championships at Mark Twain, to finish second and help Corning to a second-place finish.
“I enjoyed playing today,” Neally said. “It was good. I had a tough start, with five-over through three, then I had a good recovery, dropped a couple pars, then had a couple birdies then it started coming along. I played well on the back, had a rough ninth hole, but ended up well.”
For Corning coach Chris Clark it was nice to see his star bounce back this week. On top of that, it was special to see Neally get on fire after a slow start to the round.
“He played great today,” Clark said. “I know he lit up the back nine. He played very well on the back nine. He was disappointed (last week), he’s definitely a team guy, he’ll put the team ahead of the individual, so he was really disappointed in the way he played last week, because of how it could have potentially impacted the team. But, he played great today and he’s done that all season, he’s been our leader by far, a round or two doesn’t define him as a golfer, he’s had a great season.
“He told me, and again there is so many kids going every which way so it’s hard to keep track of everything, but I talked to him three or four times and he was down as low as four under on the back nine. That’s a great showing out of him today.”
For Neally it was nice to shoot a big round in a big competition.
“To come into a competition that actually matters and shoot a score I usually shoot is definitely something I like,” he said.
As a team Corning shot a 417, just one shot behind Union-Endicott for the team title.
“Tough loss today,” Neally said. “But, we had a good win last week (capturing sectionals) and only a stroke today is not bad.”
While the Hawks would have liked to finish a couple shots lower, they know it was a great day and season.
“The kids played great,” Clark said. “They played great all season. This is a little bit of a challenging course. The greens and stuff, but the kids handled it well, and unfortunately UE handled it just a touch better than we did, by a stroke.”
Along with the 77 from Neally, the Hawks got an 81 from Nishant Lahiri and an 84 from Luke Mayfield. Will Davis shot 86 and Carson Crane had a round of 89. Jack Creath was the sixth golfer with a 93.
Dante Bertoni led Union-Endicott with a 78 and Cal Machalek shot an 82, while Christian Macan and Matt Folli each shot 84 and Jake Karedes shot an 88. Dylan Mollo had an 89 as the sixth golfer.
Seton Catholic was third with a 445 led by medalist Michael Bucko, who shot a two-under 70.
Horseheads finished fourth at 448 led by Evan Hatch, who was a medalist, taking seventh overall, with a round of 80.
“Great round for Evan, I was happy for him,” Horseheads coach Ed Browning said. “He finished very strong, very proud of him. He’s worked hard. He’s a kid I’ve had since the seventh grade in our golf program, so this is a culmination of six years of hard work.”
Nate Gillette shot an 89 for Horseheads and Dan Finnerty had a 91, while Josh Holden shot 92 and Luke Conway had a round of 96. Dom Miller finished as the sixth golfer with a 104.
With their top golfer, Matt Printup, out of the lineup with an injury the Blue Raiders got a solid performance to take fourth.
“This is about what I expected,” Browning said. “This is a pretty tough course. If you don’t have a lot of experience on it, it’s really hard to get a low score.
“They competed. That’s all you can ask for, that’s all you can ask for of any of your players is to compete to the greatest extend possible and do the best they can and I really believe they did that.”
The three division champions, and three wild cards, were at the STAC Championships as teams. Other teams sent individuals to compete.
Elmira had a pair of individuals with Brady Magliocca shooting a 90 and Will McLane shooting just one shot back with a round of 91 on the Express’ home course.
IN TOP PHOTO: Corning’s Luca Neally. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES
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