Bethlehem Press

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Press photo by Rob MerchantAndrew Knerr is the only senior on this year’s Freedom golf team. Copyright - Digital Media Magic Press photo by Rob MerchantAndrew Knerr is the only senior on this year’s Freedom golf team. Copyright - Digital Media Magic

Liberty golf off to a hot start this season

Thursday, September 14, 2017 by jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Experiencing one of their greatest seasons in nearly 10 years, Liberty’s golf team is looking forward to a post season spot. In fact, all Bethlehem-based teams are optimistic of a strong finish.

Liberty began play this week with a 12-1 mark, their lone blemish being a loss to Emmaus in East Penn Conference play.

Head coach Steve Bradley knew his players might be challenged, and he is anticipating a rematch.

“We had to play them (Emmaus) at Brookside and we had trouble handling the course,” said Bradley. “I think it cost us the match. But we are looking forward to meeting them at districts.”

Still, the Hurricanes have been consistent all season.

“Our kids really have been playing great,” added Bradley. “A couple of teams lost some key players and that helped us. Our top five or six players are playing all the time. They have really shot the ball well and you can see their improvements.”

Bradley cited the play of Austin Stella and Jordan Barker, who have been the table setters for the Hurricanes.

“Austin (Stella) has shot in the mid-70s other than the Emmaus match,” said Bradley. “He really has his game together. Jordan Barker is a golfer who is fun to watch. He has the demeanor of season veteran and has been very steady.”

Tyler Young, Nolan Beagell, Joey Altemose, and Evan Cartwright have filled out the lineup card with their steady play.

“Tyler Young has really worked on his game, and Nolan Beagell has been in the 80s after the 90s last year,” said Bradley. “Joey Altemose had really improved his power, and Evan Cartwright has had a good year.”

The Hurricanes will complete the regular season with matches against Parkland and Freedom. From there, they will await the post season.

“It has been a very good year for us,” said Bradley. “We want to finish strong and then see what happens with districts and beyond.”

At Bethlehem Catholic, the Golden Hawks are in the midst of a mild transition year as they have suffered three uncharacteristic losses.

“We have been OK,” said head coach Tim McGorry. “We had a senior-laden team, but we couldn’t close the gap on some teams. We were 10-12 strokes off the pace.

“The league is not as strong as it used to be and there are no superstar players. It was Emmaus and Liberty at the top and Liberty and Northampton are right there. We competed and I am happy with that.”

McGorry stated that Sean Costello was the Hawk’s No. 1 player all season and had a steady season. Becahi will return a core of underclassmen, and freshmen Trey Kelly emerged as a potential front-runner.

“He (Kelly) shot in the 80s and he has the potential to get better,” said McGorry. “He will have to work at it. We should also have some other guys in the mix.”

McGorry emphasized that his players will need to get good equipment, get golf lessons, and to be members at a golf course.

“Everybody is at a high level of competition,” said McGorry. “We need to keep working and we’ll get back on track.”

Freedom will close out the season finishing basically within their parameters. Head coach Mike Evans saw his club hovering around the .500 mark, and the Patriots will be near the mark. Evans predicted his club would finish at 7-8 and it appears they will end the year at 6-9.

The Patriots will end their campaign with matches against Pocono Mountain East, Becahi, and Liberty.

“We hope to go 6-9,” said Evans. “We lost a very close match to Pleasant Valley that we probably should have won. We have a very winnable match with Pocono Mountain East, a tough one with Becahi, and a virtually impossible one with Liberty.”

The good news for the Patriots is that they will lose one senior, Andrew Knerr, and return 11 golfers in the fold next season.

“We should improve by two or three matches and by 10 to 15 strokes next year,” added Evans. “We’ll be looking forward to it.”