Friends first, competitors second on course coaches

Barney Foltman and Mitch Shapiro getting to know each other.

Barney (Foltman) made a new friend on Tuesday.

It was apropos for that to happen as the annual Scarsdale-Edgemont girls golf match — more Barney & Friends than Bronx River Cup — has become more about camaraderie than results.

Scarsdale coach Foltman first built a friendship with Edgemont coach George DiChiara, then Bryan Paul, now first-year coach Mitch Shapiro.

“Edgemont-Scarsdale has been a rivalry that has been rich in friendship and in competition,” Foltman said. “We’re going to continue this. They have a new coach who has taken over for Bryan and I had an opportunity to play with him today. He’s a terrific guy and a pretty good golfer. I think he beat me by a few strokes, which kind of broke my heart. I’ll come prepared next time though.”

Foltman may have lost, but his team won handily, dominating as it has all season with a 211-280 victory.

Friends first, competitors second on course scoreboard

Shapiro also enjoyed the late afternoon into evening at Sunningdale.

“We hit it off right away and his girls are so super sweet, which my girls were saying on the way here,” he said. “They said they’re great golfers, but such great girls and they like that.”

The coaches were delighted to see how supportive the girls were of each other throughout the match and at the end when there were some parting hugs between Raiders and Panthers.

“The kids feel that way, too,” Foltman said. “They knew each other, they respect each other and it kind of epitomizes everything you’d like to have in a high school competition. They’re competitive, they’re respectful and they’ve become friends on the course and off.”

Scarsdale senior Madhavi Shashank is a veteran of these matches.

“It’s cool to see the change in both teams and the players,” she said. “As you play them you make more friendships and you get to see your new friends develop as golfers and people. It’s cool to see the growth and how close we are.”

They even root for each other at sectionals. “When you recognize each other you’re like, ‘Hey, great shot,’ or you wave to each other from across the holes,” Shashank said. “It’s nice. It’s a lot more familiar the more it goes on.”

This was the second go-round for Edgemont sophomore Katie Asciutto, who played in a foursome with freshman teammate Jenna Musoff and Scarsdale ninth-graders Sky Braun and Jacqueline Lu, who are all new to varsity.

“It’s really intimidating,” Asciutto said.” They are super good, but they’re all really nice people, so that makes it easier. I feel like I definitely learned from watching them.” She added, “We were never going to win, so it was just fun.”

Friends first, competitors second on course shashank

Scarsdale's Madhavi Shashank

Musoff added, “They’re really good. We could be that good if we keep practicing.”

After two straight trips to the Section 1 team finals, the Raiders are positioning themselves as the favorites this season. They have the low scores and the depth thus far between veterans, improved players and newcomers.

“We had some really good scores last week and we bested our best with a 197, one stroke ahead of our 198, so that was impressive,” Foltman said. “I feel like we’re carrying some good momentum. The kids played well today, not as well as last week, but I think the course was playing a little bit tougher, the greens were a little bit tougher. The kids are really putting together six good, good scores.”

Foltman added, “I’m seeing some kids that haven’t had that great score starting to have those great scores. That’s really impressive.”

Among them are Rebecca Maude and Lily Kronenberg, who have both broken 40 this spring.

The challenge for Foltman is getting enough girls in six matches to give them a chance to qualify for individual sectionals, while also keeping them playing enough to be in top form by the time postseason rolls around.

“We have a few weeks to go and a few more girls I think can possibly make sectionals,” he said. “We’re going to try and get as many kids there as possible.”

Friends first, competitors second on course cai

Edgemont's Lily Cai

Kronenberg, a junior third-year golfer, has made her irons and putter do things they didn’t used to do.

“Overall I’m putting myself in a better position on each hole to hit a better shot the next time,” she said. “I’m playing a little smarter golf, instead of just trying to hit it as far as I can, which has been better for me.”

In addition to the amount of time she has dedicated to the sport, Kronenberg credits the older players over the years for setting a good example.

“Kaitlyn (Lee) has been a really good role model for me,” she said, referring to the defending Section 1 champion, a senior. “Coming out this year I worked over the winter and the summer. I just love playing golf, so it’s nice to see some results.”

Shashank is wrapping up her fourth year on the team. She been a big part of the shift from being a competitive team to being elite the last three years.

“The level just has increased significantly,” she said. “Every year it gets more and more competitive, especially the girls that we see coming in. The freshmen get better and the more seasoned players all of a sudden they get better. It’s skyrocketed.”

While the Edgemont girls were talking about how nice the Scarsdale girls are on the ride to the match, the Scarsdale girls were discussing how they could have as many of 10 girls make it to sectionals.

“We’d like to see more girls going to states and this year we’re really hoping to take the team to states,” Shashank said. “I think we have a really good chance at it… In the past girls golf wasn’t taken as seriously as boys golf and now we’re shooting similar scores to them and we’re on the same level, which is a nice feeling.”

Kronenberg feels the competition within the team is what pushes the Raiders since they don’t often enough face similarly skilled teams.

“As a general rule I think our team has a very positive attitude going out there and we really feed off each other,” Kronenberg said. “When someone else shoots low, the other person in the group shoots low. It’s a good team dynamic.”

There were a few years when Edgemont fielded a stronger team, so Shapiro has been tasked with rebuilding the team around last year’s sectional qualifiers, Evelyn Chiu, a state qualifier, Alexis Chan and Christina Zhong, who are all juniors.

“We still have half of our season, so we’re looking forward to it,” Shapiro said. “I think we have a real good shot of at least three, the three who were there last season, for them to go again. Maybe next year more than that.”

Asciutto is focused on her short game to help take her to the next level.

“I definitely see a lot of improvement,” she said. “It’s been a little crazy with a new coach, but overall we’re progressing nicely… I feel like there are a lot of easy strokes that I stumbled on and could have made. I’d like to improve on that for the future in the last few weeks of the season.”

Musoff has never played golf on a school team before, though she’s played at Sunningdale. She transferred from the Windward School this year as a freshman and unlike her two older sisters, she isn’t a lacrosse goalie, though she used to play the sport.

“Before I couldn’t really play through and I used to play around and now I’m more steady,” Musoff said. “Today I didn’t pick up at all. That was my goal today, not to pick up. I’m hoping to get better each day.”

Chipping has been her main area of improvement. “I could not chip before,” she said. “It’s the best feeling when it goes into the hole, to hear that sound.”

Musoff, like many golfers, is looking to build her consistency. She was at 72 one day, 60 another day and 69 against Scarsdale.

“I’m playing Thursday so I am hoping to go down since we’re off the break,” she said. “I learned every day it’s something different and you can never be perfect. You have to keep going and always get better.”

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