The Eagles, Stuyvesant’s co-ed golf team, gained their second consecutive win against The Bronx High School of Science in last year’s City Championship. Widely considered one of the most successful teams at Stuyvesant, the Eagles aspire to continue their success in the upcoming season.
Despite a great track record, the loss of key players has weakened the team, putting it at a disadvantage to more experienced squads. The coming season will tell whether or not the Eagles will be able to hold onto the title as the Public Schools Athletic League’s (PSAL) leading golf team. Coach Emilio Nieves has hopes to continue the championship appearances. “I expect us to compete for the PSAL championship for the fifth season in a row,” Nieves said. This is a bold outlook, but certainly not unachievable for the team considering its history.
The roster entering the season is not without concerns—the most glaring of which is the departure of Neil Vyas, a member of last year’s senior class. A four-year starter, Vyas racked up numerous accolades during his tenure, including participating in both the Mayor’s Cup and the New York Federation Golf Championship. With Vyas gone, others must step up in order to fill the number one spot that he held in his four years.
This should not be impossible, as the Eagles do not lack talent. First, senior Nicholas Ng, last year’s number two golfer, is another player with a long résumé, having also started since his freshman year. He should bring leadership both on and off the links, especially if he starts hot and shows improvement upon his previous years. After a phenomenal freshman campaign during which Ng posted a 9-hole total (a player’s high score over 9 holes of play over the course of a season) of 35 strokes, his performance has not advanced since, with this statistic rising to 36 in his sophomore year and to 38 as a junior. If Ng is able to bring that total down, he may not only fill the void left by Vyas, but also set an example for the team’s younger golfers.
In addition to Ng, the talent of junior phenom Christopher Chan is not to be denied. As a freshman, Chan posted a 9-hole total of 40 strokes, proving to be a dominant force even as a rookie. Despite this impressive number, the real optimism comes from his playoff success, as he saw that total drop to 36 on the game’s biggest stage. If he is able to perform in clutch again, the team has a real shot at success.
Another potential obstacle for the Eagles is their schedule. Since the inception of co-ed golf in 2014, Stuyvesant’s division, the Manhattan league, has always had five or fewer teams, with its only opponent of similar caliber being Hunter College High School. However, this year, the division has expanded to a whopping nine teams, including Bronx Science—Stuyvesant’s opponent in the past two finals. This may put the fate of the Manhattan league on the sole matchup between these two schools, as the winner would gain an enormous upperhand in the divisional race. Additionally, though Hunter has finished a tier below Stuyvesant and Bronx Science during the past few playoff runs, they could be looking to play spoiler.
However, the Eagles do not doubt themselves heading into the season. “I think we’re deep enough to still be a top tier team,” Chan said.
Ng affirms this attitude as well: “I’d say that our expectations are pretty high,” Ng said.
With a tougher division and a vacancy at the number one position, the crux of the season will be the contribution of last year’s bench. Seniors Kevin Zheng and Zachary Ginsberg are two strong players who will look to help the team in any way possible. Mainly a reserve through his first three years, Zheng had success in the limited playing time that he saw, going 3-0 in both freshman and sophomore years. Ginsberg has a similar history, going 3-0 last year. He also posted a perfect 4-0 mark as a freshman while picking up a playoff victory.
In order to ensure the team’s execution of said expectations, Ng intends to assume a leadership role. “As a senior on the team, I’m also hoping to work with some of the younger players to help them improve so that our team is stronger in the future,” he said. This work could be instrumental in helping the team compete for titles beyond this year’s.
With that said, the games against Bronx Science and Hunter should test the team’s depth, as well as determine how far the team ultimately goes. “Right now, Bronx Science and Hunter are also good, and we’ve barely beaten them the past two years,” Chan said. “This year should be interesting.”