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Butler leads Eagles in opening match

ROBERT STARKEY tees off under blue skies at North Conway Country Club on Aug. 26. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
August 30, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — Coach Joe Soraghan has a solid lineup of experienced golfers to call on as the new Kennett golf season begins at North Conway Country Club.

As the Eagles teed off for the first match, six of Soraghan's seven golfers had varsity match experience, which gave the Kennett coach reason to be optimistic heading into the new season.

"We've got some experience," he said. "I'm optimistic this year. I think we'll win more than we won last year."

While experience is a calling card for the Eagles, the team only has one senior. Carter Butler will serve as the team's captain and started the year as the number two golfer in the lineup.

Securing the number one spot for the first match was lefty Robert Starkey. Starkey saw time as a freshman last year and is expected to be a strong competitor at the top of the lineup for the Eagles this fall.

"He played competitive golf all summer," Soraghan said, noting that Starkey shot a 76 at Derryfield, a strong round.

John Brown started the season as the number three golfer on the roster for Kennett, while Soraghan put Quinn Duffy, Nate Ela, Kenny Drew and Ben Garner out as the remainder of the top seven to open the season.

He noted that the remainder of the team, which totals 14, wasn't quite ready for the varsity experience after such a short preseason, so he elected to start only seven players in the first match instead of eight.

Opening day

The first match of the season went pretty well for the Eagles and they earned the praise of veteran Kingswood coach Warren Tickle for their significant improvement over a year ago.

The Eagles fell just one stroke short of tying for the lead and ended up taking second place behind Kingswood. The Knights shot a 219 and the Eagles fired a 220. Coe-Brown finished third with a 224 and Plymouth rounded out the field at North Conway Country Club with a score of 246.

The star of the day by far was Butler, who carded a two-over-par 37 in the first match of his senior season and walked away with medalist honors by three strokes over his closest competitor.

"For nine holes, that's a big stroke differential," Soraghan said.

Starkey was next in line for the Eagles, as he came in with a 43 for the afternoon playing out of the top spot in the lineup.

Duffy also had a solid day in his first match of the season, firing a 46 from the fourth spot. Ela and Drew, playing in the fifth and sixth spots, both shot 47s to round out the scoring for the Eagles. Garner fired a 48 and Brown shot a 52 in opening action.

"I'm thrilled, I'm very pleased," Soraghan said of the team's opening effort.

The team's efforts were dampened a little by a rain shower that moved through the area shortly after the match started, but beyond that, the contest was played under mostly blue skies.

The Eagles will continue the season with a pair of matches at North Conway Country Club in the coming week. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, and Thursday, Sept. 9, the boys will tee off at 3:30 p.m. on their home course, the final two home matches of the 2010 season.

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