AUBURN — More questions than answers greeted this year’s edition of the St. Dom’s golf team as it teed up for its first season as a member of the Mountain Valley Conference.

The Saints answered those questions emphatically.

Despite losing a handful of seniors from their back-to-back state title teams, the Saints carved their way through the MVC with precision. Two pairs of brothers — Dylan and Cody Rodrigue and Joe and Chris Bryant — have shared time in different positions time among the team’s top four, and despite playing half of its matches at previously unknown courses, St. Dom’s thrashed the competition in an undefeated regular season.

“The goal hasn’t changed just because we’ve changed conferences,” St. Dom’s coach Kevin Cullen said. “We’ve won twice, and it was obviously our goal to get back to states. We had to see a lot of new courses, and we have a lot of new, young players. We had a few sophomores get regular time in, and our game is coming together.”

St. Dom’s, like all of the other teams in the MVC and in other conferences around the state, still have to officially qualify for the state championships, however.

The road for St. Dom’s is a bit different this year. As a member of the Western Maine Conference in Class C, since there were so few teams, only one Class C school advanced from the conference qualifying tourney. That meant, in each of the last two years, it was either the Saints or NYA, widely regarded as the top two Class C schools state-wide.

NYA returns all of its players from last year, and appears to be primed to sweep through WMC qualifying. St. Dom’s, meanwhile, has to navigate the MVC’s qualifying tournament at Natanis in Vassalboro.

“If we can get through to states, it’s going to be a big challenge,” Cullen said. “NYA is filthy this year. They were great last year, and they didn’t graduate anybody.”

Other top contenders in the MVC this season include unbeaten Madison, which will play St. Dom’s for the MVC team title Monday, Winthrop and Wiscasset. Telstar, with a good showing, could sneak into the state team qualifying mix, too.

TOUGH SLEDDING IN WMC

Speaking of that Western Maine Conference, Poland finds itself in a tough spot after a stellar regular season.

The Knights, who’ve struggled in each of the last few seasons, are completing a rebuild with some force. They finished divisional play with a 7-1 record, losing only to Gray-New Gloucester on the final day of the regular season.

“We definitely had a good year within the division,” Poland coach Dan Novak said. “There’s still no doubt that we’re at the top of what we see as a second tier in the conference.”

Novak pointed at Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, York and Yarmouth as the clear-cut best teams in the conference, though he didn;t discount his squad’s ability to reach that level next season.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Novak said. “We’ll go out there and give it our best this year, and then next year, we’ve got a shot at making a run.”

Gray-New Gloucester, which returned to Class B this year, is in the same boat as Poland in terms of being a year or two away, and proved it can play in big matches with that win over the Knights to close out the season on the road.

MVC qualifying for the state team tourney is at Willowdale this week.

FINDING A WAY ON THE ROAD

Martindale Country Club has been friendly to the Lewiston High School golf team this fall. Most of the other courses in conference play have not.

“These kids, for whatever reason, don;t seem to play well away from Martindale,” Lewiston coach Bob Blanchette said. “It’s going to be hard to qualify for states if we can’t play a bit smarter away from home. But, it’s an 18-hole qualifier and not just nine, and there are some good golfers on this team.”

Lewiston and the rest of the KVAC will attempt to make it into the state tourney with qualifying rounds at Natanis this week. Brunswick and Cony likely wear the mantle of favorites going into that one in Class A.

“Brunswick’s got a great team,” Blanchette said. “I’m not saying we have no chance, but the kids are going to have to come to play.”


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