APTOS—Matt Anderson has adjusted quite well in his second stint as coach of the Aptos High girls’ golf team. He’s feeling more confident than ever, ready to make some noise in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League this season.
However, the Mariners are going to have to do it with a roster of just five golfers after low turnouts continue to be a trend among schools within the league.
“In a good year we would get six or seven golfers,” Anderson said. “It’s been harder since the [Covid-19] pandemic to field teams. But I think over the next two years we will start to get more coming out.”
Aptos isn’t the only school feeling the effects of low numbers. Harbor and Santa Cruz High had to drop their programs after not having enough golfers to field a team.
But with things getting back to normal since the Covid-19 pandemic, the 12th-year coach (2002-2008, 2018-present) said things have gotten much better for him and the Mariners.
“Being an on-campus coach has been great, being that I am able to touch base with them and talk to other students trying to get them interested in golf has been lots of help,” he said.
Alexandra Gonzales, a senior, was runner up at last year’s SCCAL Golf Championships to Scotts Valley senior Elana McGrew.
“Alexandra has been our top golfer for the last three years,” Anderson said.
Gonzales said she used her time during the Covid-19 pandemic to grow and become a better player.
“[The] pandemic really pushed me to go out and practice more,” she said. “I would go out at least three to four times per week and really try to improve my game overall.”
Despite the low numbers on the roster sheet, Anderson is ready to show the league what the Mariners can do this season.
“Scotts Valley is the team to beat right now, we have a lot of work to do to catch up with them, but I think if we put the time and effort then we can give them a run,” Anderson said.
Aptos began league play Sept. 20 with a loss to the league-favorite Falcons.
The Mariners bounced back two days later with a 147-198 win over San Lorenzo Valley in a 6-hole league match.
Gonzales shot a 33, followed by freshman standout Emily Fassio (35) and junior Colette Fort (39).
With the win, Aptos improved to 1-2 in league play.
Anderson said the golfers, so far, are meeting his expectations as the Mariners split their first two league matches.
“Not all the girls play year round, a few of them do,” he said. “It will take them time to get back into it, but they work hard and come to practice every day.”
Gonzales, who was the match medalist in last week’s victory against SLV, will serve as the team’s No. 1 golfer this season.
“Scotts Valley is the team to beat so we are going to work hard to get ready for them,” Gonzales said. “Being consistent with my scores and having fun is my goal this year.”
Fassio is a new addition to the Mariners and will serve as the team’s No. 2 golfer.
“[I’m] looking to lower my scores each match and be competitive,” Fassio said.
Anderson also emphasized Fort along with sophomore Lillian McGee and senior Jemine Blanco as other key returners this season.
“I want to see our scores improve every round or match we play… of course I would also like to win a league title,” Anderson said.
The SCCAL will host a league championship at the end of the season which will be decided between Aptos, Scotts Valley, San Lorenzo Valley and Soquel High.
With two league schools missing in action, Anderson said he’s been trying to maintain a full schedule by reaching out to other teams in the area.
The Mariners will square off against Watsonville in non-league play at Spring Hills Golf Course in Watsonville on Oct. 4 at 3:30pm, followed by back-to-back league matches against Soquel.
The Mariners currently own four SCCAL team titles in the program’s history, all under former coach Bill Tsudama. His first title came in 2014, followed by three more in 2015, 2016 and most recently in 2017.
Anderson said he wants to see the golfers have a great season and hopefully add himself into the history books at Aptos.
“It has been a while since we won a league title,” he said. “But I’m hoping to change that soon.”