Fox Chapel boys golf preparing for a WPIAL team title run

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Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 4:10 PM


Over the course of the past few years, the Fox Chapel boys golf team have been strokes away from capturing the program’s fifth team championship.

In 2015, they finished second to Peters Township by 10 strokes. A year later, they came within a stroke of taking down Central Catholic. They took sixth in 2017 but bounced back last year to finish six strokes behind the Vikings for yet another runner-up finish.

This year may be different for the Foxes.

After capturing their 28th section title in school history earlier this week with a perfect record of 12-0, Fox Chapel’s golfers are happy with how the season has gone, but they aren’t satisfied just yet.

“We just need to stay focused,” said senior Scott Bitar, who was recently crowned the 2019 WPIAL Class AAA individual champion. “Our record shows that we can do it. We just have to execute.”

To have the success they have had this season, the Foxes have had to buy in as a team. Coach Bryan Deal said the starting lineup has included seven or eight players, and a few of them have had to compete for the final spot on occasion.

With five seniors and a junior in the starting lineup on most days, the Foxes have showcased a level of experience and maturity that Deal hasn’t had in years past. Not only has it shown off the golf course, it also has translated to a level of team chemistry on it that has allowed the team to thrive as a whole.

“I really think that this is the most unselfish team that we have had,” Deal said. “They all like each other, they all trust each other, and they understand that it is a common goal and it is going to take all six of them to get there.”

Behind Bitar, Aidan Oehrle, Amani D’Ambrosio, Will Livingston, Matt Mattioli and Brevin Urso have contributed to the team’s undefeated run this season. They have already taken down defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Central Catholic twice and have also tested themselves against some of the top teams out there.

They recently placed third at the Dublin Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, which had 19 of the best teams from around Ohio. They were the only out-of-state team to compete in the tournament.

“We try to make our schedule as hard as we can every year to prepare us for the grind that it takes to get us through the WPIAL,” Deal said.

The team has been challenged at points this season, and the Foxes have learned a lot along the way. For example, they found themselves in a tie with Section 3-AAA opponent Franklin Regional and needed a playoff to pull out the victory.

“That was one where I think we took it for granted a little too much,” senior Matt Mattioli said. “I think we all went into the match thinking we weren’t going to lose and we just can’t have that mindset come next week because anything can happen.”

Since 1974, the Foxes have brought home four WPIAL team titles. Their last one came in 2006 when they edged out runner-up Upper St. Clair by six strokes. Since then, they have been on the brink of a fifth title but haven’t been able to get over the hump.

When it comes to finally accomplishing that goal, the Foxes know exactly what they have to do and it’s something they’ve been preaching all season long.

“It’s just been playing as a team,” Mattioli said. “I think our goal has been playing for the team rather than playing individually and when we do that, we clearly come out successful, so I think that’s the plan for next week.”

The journey for that elusive fifth team title begins Tuesday when they compete in the team semifinals in order to punch their ticket to the team championships Thursday at Cedarbrook Golf Club.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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