NEW HANOVER — The five seniors on the Methacton golf team wanted to go out on top by winning Thursday afternoon's Pioneer Athletic Conference team championship.
And they did it by winning in typical fashion, with their third one-stroke decision of the season, beating Owen J. Roberts 187-188 at Gilbertsville Golf Club.
Freshman Kyle Vance led the way for the Warriors (11-0, 11-1) by shooting a par 35 over nine holes, one stroke better than senior brother Brandon Vance. Jared Faust was low man with a 36 for OJR (9-2, 11-3), which lost to Methacton by one stroke during the regular season.
Last year the Warriors lost in the semifinals after winning the title the previous two seasons, and that was one of their major motivations on Thursday.
"Most of them were in that match, losing that semifinal match last year,' said Methacton coach Kevin Flanagan. "It was pouring rain and they battled and lost by six strokes. They wanted to come back and prove they were a good team.'
"That loss last year was really hard,' said Warrior senior Corey Betham. "We had high expectations last year. We came back strong.'
Methacton got off to a good start with the low scores by the Vance brothers in the first group, but the Wildcats — who were in their first final since the inaugural Final Four in 2005 — stayed in it with good rounds by Connor Ruyak and Maddie Sager in the second group and trailed by six with two players remaining for each squad.
Then OJR No. 7 player Dave Brown came in with a 38, which was six strokes better than the fifth-best score for his team up to that point. But the Warriors' No. 7 player, sophomore Zach Feaster, carded a 39 to clinch the win.
That finished up a year of hard work for the Warrior team that put them back on top after last year's disappointment.
"That was another one of our motivations,' said Betham. "Five of us (Brandon Vance, Betham, Mike Foley, Nick Frassenei, and Jeff Handwerk) wanted to go out winners.'
"You definitely get to know each other,' added Brandon Vance. "It's making you work hard.'
Along the way, the Warriors helped each other improve, often going out to shoot another nine holes right after a match, while having faith their teammates would come through even if they had an off day.
"I think we really help each other out in practice rounds and really bonded with each other,' said Betham. "Even if someone's having a bad day, you realize, ' I can mess up a little bit.''
"We don't have a goal to rely on anyone,' added Brandon Vance. "We just go out and shoot the best we can. We just grind it out. It definitely helps if someone's not feeling well one day.'
Owen J. Roberts coach Ted Snyder, whose team will join Methacton in next week's District 1 Team Tournament, was pleased with the way his players performed.
"We played great,' he said. "We shot a 188. You think that's good enough to win out here. My guys played great. We played really good all year.'
The Wildcats had failed to make the Final Four the past two seasons after qualifying for the playoffs five out of six years before that.
"They worked on their own and got a lot better that way,' Snyder said. "I thought the seniors had good quality leadership, Jared (Faust) and Laura Hackman in particular. Not so much verbal, but how they handled themselves and the practice they did. It's disappointing for them, but it was a great season.'
The Warriors — who became the first team to win three golf Final Four titles (Boyertown and Perkiomen Valley have two each) — are now a combined 39-4 in PAC-10 regular season and playoff matches over the last four seasons.
"There's a lot of things involved,' added Flanagan. "We hit a good stretch when we had a really good junior class when they (the current seniors) were freshmen. Any team that wins it, there's a kid who steps up a lot like Zach Feaster. He's a sophomore. It takes a lot of different things through the course of a match. That's the nice thing about playing eight kids.
"We just had more motivated kids. The fact that they were motivated to keep working put them over the top.'