WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College head men's golf coach Josh Hillman and his Eph golfers will head to Middlebury, VT this weekend to play in the NESCAC Golf Championship hosted by Middlebury College Saturday and Sunday.
The winner of the NESCAC Golf Championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The 36-hole event will be held at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course, which is a 6,379-yard layout with a par of 71.
Hillman's Ephs are the defending champions and Williams has won 12 NESCAC titles over the years.
Middlebury will have the advantage of playing on their home course and the Panthers have won three of the last five NESCAC crowns.
Middlebury earned the right to host the 2014 championship by winning the NESCAC Fall Qualifier hosted by Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The Panthers won the event by an impressive 17 strokes. Trinity finished second, Amherst third, and Williams fourth to complete the field for the championship field this weekend.
Hillman's Ephs have played well this spring opening up with fourth place finish in a field of seven Division I teams at the University of Rhode Island Invitational. The Ephs were second after day one, but slipped to fourth after the final round.
Since the Rhody Invite the Ephs have won their last two tournaments, edging Middlebury by one shot at the NYU/Manhattanville Invite and winning their own NESCAC Spring Opener at Taconic by eight shots over Middlebury. Trinity finished 19 shots back and Amherst was 25 shots off the Ephs' pace.
Last weekend the Ephs were led on the second day by an even-par 71 round by senior captain Dylan Dethier who bounced back from an opening round 82. Freshman Grant Raffel led the Ephs with a two-round score of 147 (74-73) to tie for second, followed by steady junior Jake Goldenring's 148 (75-73), placing Goldenring in a tie for fourth. Senior captain Cody Semmelrock who fired a 151 (74-77) finished ninth and senior captain Ross Bowen shot a 153 (77-76) to tie for 10th overall with Dethier.
Wednesday the Ephs captured the Little Three title with convincing wins over Amherst and Wesleyan, which again put the Ephs' depth on display. "All eight of the guys really played hard," noted Hillman. "The type of format we were playing (match play) is different than our week in and week out tournaments. It forces you to hit shots at different times... you need to know when to put the pedal down a when to lay back."
"We have a big weekend ahead of us," added Hillman. "It is going to be hard to beat Middlebury at their home course. I feel that we are very well prepared and that we will continue to play solid golf.
"Every tournament this season has been a battle and I fully expect this one to be no different. Our season has come together nicely and it would be nice to put together two more good rounds this spring. We are a hard working team and we never give up. We stay positive and root for each other. I am really proud of this team. If we play our games and stick to the plan I think we have a good shot at NESCAC's this weekend."
Hillman has yet to declare his five-man lineup for the weekend, but he does have a corps of seniors with experience to choose from along with some talented younger players who are making some noise this spring with their solid play.