NEWARK, Del. – In the days leading up to the 2018-19 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Men's Golf Championship Tournament, Justin Keiser (Bellport, N.Y./Bellport), the only senior representing Felician University, publicly stated that his team was looking to finish in the top five and set the school scoring record.
Rarely has a squad been so disappointed after meeting its goals.
Felician established a program 36-hole record of 612 on Sunday and Monday at Deerfield Golf Course, in a tournament hosted by Wilmington (Del.) University. But after completing Sunday's round with a 302 and going to bed in second place and four shots off the lead, the Golden Falcons settled for fifth place out of nine teams in the final standings.
"The result was good, and I'm proud of the boys," said 14th-year Felician head coach Ben DiNallo Jr. "But for this program to continue to grow, we need to go into tournaments expecting to be better. The great thing about a fall-season conference tournament is that there's plenty of golf to be played. We now need to channel our energies toward earning our first team regional berth."
Junior Jake Storako (Laurel Springs, N.J./Highland Regional) led three Golden Falcons in the top 10 of the 45-player field. By tying for fourth place, Storako qualified for the CACC All-Tournament Team for the second time in his career.
But Storako, who followed a school tournament record 71 on Sunday with Monday's 77 on par-70 Deerfield, echoed the theme of missed opportunity.
"I'm disappointed in my putting today," said Storako, who was one shot behind after Day 1, but finished six behind medalist Matthieu Sicard of runner-up Post University. "From tee to green I was as good as I've been all season – by my count I made 15 greens in regulation. But the putter didn't go my way. The tournament was there for me and I could not capitalize. It's a lesson learned."
Freshman Gonzalo Felices (Almeria, Spain/Stella Maris) delivered his best tournament as a collegian, tying for seventh place with 74-76-150. Junior transfer Christian Lauchaire (Annandale, N.J./North Hunterdon), coming off a CACC Co-Player of the Week selection, was steady at 76-75 and tied for 10th. All six of Lauchaire's round this season have been between 74 and 80.
Keiser, playing in his fourth and final CACC Championship, was 36th (81-85-166), and junior transfer Prince Sukklabsawan (Si Racha, Thailand/Heritage Academy [S.C.]) tied for 37th by signing for 86-82-168.
Despite the school-record scoring, Storako sees plenty of room for the Golden Falcons to go lower.
"We all know we left shots on the course," he said. "We learned the hard way that if we're not at our best, we won't win. But it's going to get better from here. We've formed a strong bond in a short time, and even though it's an individual sport, we all want to play well for each other and not just ourselves."
Dominican (N.Y.) College won its first conference championship, firing 298-298-596 (+36) to nose out Post by seven strokes and end Wilmington's eight-year stranglehold on the title. Sicard shot 72-70-142 (+2) to defeat Dominican's Danny Parker by one shot for the individual crown.
The all-tournament team consisted of Sicard, Parker, Wilmington senior Ryan Rucinski, Chestnut Hill College freshman Jakob Lemieux and Storako.
Felician enjoys a brief respite before traveling to greater Albany for the College of Saint Rose Fall Shootout on Friday and Saturday.