Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The news was good for a pair of Lawrence County golf teams yesterday.
Neshannock and Shenango high schools both advanced to the WPIAL Class AA Championship.
The Lancers shot a 417 in the semifinals at Donegal Highlands Golf Course. The score was good for second place, qualifying Neshannock for the WPIAL finals at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Cedarbrook/Gold Golf Club in Belle Vernon.
Sewickley Academy won the 10-team bracket with a 387. Winchester Thurston was the third and final team to move on from the group with a 428.
The Wildcats fired a 425, finishing third in their bracket. Shenango also moves on to the WPIAL Championship.
Freeport won the group the Wildcats competed in with a 417 and Burgettstown was second with a 418.
Neshannock is gunning for its third straight WPIAL crown.
“I’m really proud of our golfers,” Lancers coach Mike Kirkwood said. “It’s an honor to be there. This team kind of has its own identity.
“It’s nice to see them come this far. I don’t think many people expected them to. Anything can happen at this stage.”
Matt Cioffi paced Neshannock with a 77 and Marissa Kirkwood, the coach’s daughter, was next with an 83. Mike Maciarello carded an 84, Max Watters delivered an 86 and Marcus Giangiuli added an 87.
Cioffi shot a 36-41, tying for sixth out of 60 golfers. Marissa Kirkwood, the only girls player in the competition, placed 12th overall. Maciarello shot a 48 on the front, but he came back with a one-under 36 on the back.
“There were 10 schools there and you’ve never seen most of them play,” Mike Kirkwood said. “You just don’t know what they have coming in.
“Sewickley Academy defeated us earlier in the year. They’re definitely the best team. We practiced (Sunday). Our scores weren’t too bad. But with the pressure on, things can change a little. I think we can do better.”
Shenango appeared in the WPIAL Championship last year as well, finishing fourth. The Wildcats are looking for their first district title.
“We’re glad to be back at the finals for another year,” Shenango coach John Dado said. “We’ll see what we can do (tomorrow), but we didn’t play well at all (yesterday).
Matt DeAngelo paced the Wildcats with an 82, while Lucas Villani and Tyler Settle each shot an 83. Darren Carone notched an 86 and Paul Turco recorded a 91.
“They had trouble putting and they were carding some big numbers out there,” Dado said. “There were some high scores on some holes and we didn’t finish well at the end.
“I’m surprised we played like that. That’s the worst that we have played all year. But we look forward to playing again Thursday and hopefully playing better.”
Neshannock and Shenango are Section 5, Division 2 rivals. The teams split the season series in the regular season. The Wildcats won the section championship.
“Shenango has a strong team. It’s fun to play them,” Kirkwood said. “It’s great to see the two of us reach the championship round.”
Said Dado, “It’s great for Lawrence County. There are 59 teams trying to get to this point. Now there’s six left and we’re both there. That’s great for the area.”