To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way the season ends: not with a bang but a whimper.
The Drexel golf team saw its season draw to a close April 27 when it finished seventh out of eight teams in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship, the team’s final tournament of the 2013-14 season.
Sophomore standout Chris Crawford, the team’s best shooter since September, finished tied for eighth place with a 7-over-par 223. He was, however, the only Dragon in the top 25 finishers as the team’s other four competitors scattered over the final 15 places.
Senior Vincent Anagnos finished tied for 26th in the final tournament of his career, and freshman Yoseph Dance finished two strokes behind the veteran, tying for 28th.
Drexel’s other senior competitor this past weekend, Ben Hinge, finished his Drexel career with a 25-over-par 241 to tie for 34th, while freshman Brian Fischer — hot off a Top-15 finish just a week before — brought up the field’s rear with a disappointing 41-over-par 257, finishing last in the 40-participant field.
The Dragons entered the conference’s tournament with nothing more than a glimmering outside hope of competing. All the pieces had to fall just right. Still, head coach Mike Dynda said that he was looking for a little more out of his team in its final contest of the season.
“Overall, [I’m] disappointed,” Dynda said when asked what he thought of his squad’s final effort. “It was nice to get a good round out of Yoseph on the final day. Chris struggled a little bit but had a fantastic season. But overall, I’d say disappointment.
“I was hoping the two seniors [Anagnos and Hinge] would go out on a high note,” Dynda continued. “They both had decent rounds going all three days, but had a difficult time finishing their rounds.
“And in golf we count all 18 holes, not just the first 14 or 15.”
Dynda was correct about his seniors — both Anagnos and Hinge shot a combined 4-over-par in the final four holes of each round, a difference that, if par had been shot, could have moved Anagnos into a tie for 19th.
But it wasn’t all bad.
Crawford shot a first-round 72 and averaged 74.3 per round over the tournament, and finishing tied for eighth marked five Top-10 finishes in 10 outings this season for the Bensalem native.
Always critical of his own game, Crawford said he was personally disappointed with the way he ended his season, especially one that saw such highs earlier in the month.
“I’m not happy with the way I played this past weekend,” Crawford said. “I did some things well but just never really got it going in the end.
“I just did not hit the ball well enough to compete this past weekend.”
He said, however, that he realizes that he can still turn this tournament — and this season — into a learning experience.
Crawford said he will continue moving forward one step at a time, as always, to improve his overall game.
“As always, I’m a little disappointed about the season coming to an end,” Crawford said. “I think there were clearly a lot of positives to take from this week and this year, but also that there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Crawford entered the CAA Championship averaging 72.74 per round and concluded the season averaging 72.92, a minor bump in his scoring average but one that irked him nonetheless.
Still, Crawford’s sophomore season was an overwhelming success. That 72.92-per-round average is believed by Dynda to be a school record, although he admits his knowledge of the program is not extensive prior to his hiring in 2003. Crawford’s three individual tournament victories, however, are definitely a school record.
And Crawford isn’t the only promising aspect of the team’s future. Dance emerged this season as the Dragons’ second-most consistent golfer, never carding an above-79-per-round average in any tournament.
He and Crawford were the only two members of the team to appear in all 10 outings, something Dance says he had no sights set on when he came to University City this past fall.
“Coming in, I had no expectations for how many tournaments I would get to play in,” Dance said. “Both the fall and spring seasons were a lot of fun and I learned a lot. The Dragons welcomed me and Brian Fischer to the team from the first day we arrived on campus.”
Dance averaged 77.19 per round for the season and compiled three Top-30 finishes, an exceptional freshman resume. He said that his final performance of the season has him excited for his second year in Blue and Gold.
“I hit a lot of great shots this weekend from difficult spots on the course to tough pin positions and played great overall,” the Richmond, Va., native said. “A couple of shots or [holes] got away from me in the first two rounds, such as the par-5 14th hole where I piped three tee shots out of bounds.
“Overall, though, I’m glad I finished the season strong with a good final round score at the CAA tournament.”
Dance said his goals for the upcoming season included increasing his percentage of greens in regulation, which could help to streamline his game and keep errors early on holes to a minimum.
With Crawford, Dance and Fischer primed to improve in the coming summer in time for the 2014 fall season, the Drexel golf program seems to have a bright future ahead.
Dynda certainly seems to think so.
“I mean, Chris is a sophomore, Yoseph and Brian are freshmen, and with a good incoming class coming in, we’ll be young again next year too,” Dynda said of his youthful squad. “It’s difficult contending against the southern schools in the conference, but Towson [University] proved this year that it is possible.”
Assistant coach Ben Feld reaffirmed Dynda’s belief in the incoming recruiting class April 29, saying that Fischer — who showed promising growth toward the end of the spring season — could be as low as the team’s fifth or sixth golfer come the fall.
“We’re going to have a very different-looking team next year,” Feld said.
Dynda and Feld have a bevy of young talent at their disposal, and the Drexel golf program is on an upswing, making this the perfect time for them to capitalize on all of their resources and make a big push in the coming year.
And the two coaches know it.
“Preparation began on the plane flight home from CAAs,” Dynda said. “Coach Feld and I were working on the plane.”
It’s a good start.