Pictured: Luke Stennett sizes up his putt for eagle on the ninth hole of Wednesday’s Shoreline match against Coginchaug. The freshman settled for a birdie.

By Paul Augeri

MIDDLEFIELD – The well-rounded Portland Highlanders are the team to beat in next week’s Shoreline Conference championship tournament. Luke Stennett’s performance this season has a lot to do with this.

The freshman underscored why he is a contender for Shoreline Player of the Years honors with another medalist round Wednesday. He tapped in for birdie on the final hole to shoot even-par 36 in Portland’s 172-183 league victory against Coginchaug at Lyman Orchards’ Jones Course.

Stennett stung his approach on the 514-yard, par-5 ninth to within 20 feet of the flag. His uphill putt for eagle stopped short of the hole.

“I thought that was my best shot today,” said Stennett, who had seven pars and a bogey on the first hole. “The approach shot just felt good.”

Coginchaug’s Colin Murphy putts for birdie on No. 9 at Lyman Orchards’ Jones Course on Wednesday.

The teams played the Jones Course’s front nine, with Coginchaug’s top player, junior Colin Murphy (38), also posting a sub-40 round.

Murphy has played in many junior tournaments over the last few months. He shot 6-over (72-74) over the weekend to finish in a tie for seventh in the Junior Merchant Cup at Winterbury Hills in Bloomfield.

“My up-and-down shots were pretty good today,” he said. “The birdie chances were just not falling.”

Portland coach Joe Santavenere said he appreciates the maturity Stennett has shown as a first-year varsity player.

“Luke gives the other players confidence, I can definitely see that,” Santavenere said. “He’s a freshman but he still steps up as a leader. He’s kind of quiet, but when it comes to golf stuff, he’s the first one to go help somebody if they’re struggling. He will give someone a little tip and the next thing you know, you see that player’s confidence go up.

“In terms of his play, as a freshman, for him to come in and be doing what he’s doing, I’m pumped for the next three years and the rest of the season. Luke has been doing a great job as our number one all year, both on and off the course.”

Also scoring for Portland: Ben Lucas (42, pictured), Nick Matera (48) and Quinn Lapinski (46). Also scoring for Coginchaug: Aaron Faiella (51, pictured), RJ Albanese (49) and Jayson Penney (45).

Portland and Coginchaug squared off last week on the same track for a match that did not count in Shoreline play. The Highlanders posting a nine-shot victory in that one.

Portland is undefeated in regular-season Shoreline matches, Morgan has one loss and Coginchaug two.

The Shoreline tournament is scheduled for Tuesday at Stanley in New Britain with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Each team brings five players, with the top four scores applied to the team’s total. Coginchaug won the title in 2019. The tournament was not held last year.

In addition to Stennett and Murphy, individuals contending for the league title are thought to include senior Jason Cohen of Morgan, sophomore Jack Wise of Cromwell and junior Luke Karpiej of Hale-Ray.

In other matches:

Morgan 173, Cromwell 183
At Clinton Country Club (Front 9, white tees, par-36, rating 34)
: Jack Wise, Cromwell, 39.
Morgan: Nick Schmidt 49, Jason Cohen 42, Drew Nye 40, CJ Giuliano 42 (Tyler Greenhouse 56).
Cromwell: Wise 39, Dante Uccello 41, (Avery Goyette 56,) Ryan Rozich 48, Nino Uccello 55.

Morgan 176, Coginchaug 181 (Tuesday)
At Clinton CC

Co-Medalists: Jason Cohen (Morgan) and Colin Murphy (Coginchaug), 38.
: Nick Schmidt 45, Cohen 38, Drew Nye 46, CJ Giuliano 47 (Tyler Greenhouse 53).
Coginchaug: AJ Turman 49, Murphy 38, RJ Albanese 48, Jayson Penney 46 (Aaron Faiella 53).

North Branford 190, Old Lyme 205 (Tuesday)
At Indian Springs (non-Shoreline match)
: Dakota Cooper, North Branford, 41.
North Branford: Cooper 41, Jack O’Brien 44, Blake Pearson 48, Ryan Monde 57, (Jack Russicone 62).
Old Lyme: Pat Flanagan 43, Gavin Porter 47, Alex Chrysoulakis 57, Andrew Hedberg 58, (Aden Wilson 59).

Hand 143, Xavier 158 (Tuesday)
At Portland Golf Club
:  Matt Doyle, Hand, 32.
Hand: Doyle 32, Reece Scott 34, Matt Gagliardi 38, Will Fitzgerald 39.
Xavier: Finn Russell 36, Chris Drisdelle 38, John Carrozzella 39, Madison Whitney and John Thompson 45.
Records:  Hand 13-0,  Xavier 2-10.

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