Middlefield, CT -- Williams, Amherst, and Wesleyan teed it up today at the Lyman Orchards Golf Club for the annual Little Three Championship. This event is played Ryder Cup style, with the teams competing in an alternate shot format for the morning 18 holes. Afternoon play consists of eight singles matches. Teams began on the Gary Player Course for the alternate shot portion, and then switched over to the Robert Trent Jones Course for singles. The Ephs, which had won the event 14 years in a row, were narrowly defeated by archrival Amherst. The Lord Jeffs took the tile 6.5-5.5. Both teams won their matches over host Wesleyan, with Williams and Amherst both winning 10-2.
At the end of alternate shot, Williams trailed the Lord Jeffs by one point, and took all four points from the Cardinals. The sophomore duo of Dylan Dethier '14 and Ross Bowen '14 were able to battle back from an early deficit to earn the victory against their Amherst adversaries. The other sophomore tandem of Cody Semmelrock '14 and Matt McCarron '14 halved their match, giving the Ephs another half point. The team of senior Siwol Chang '12 and junior Alex Xu '13 lost a hard fought match to the Lord Jeffs, as did the last pairing of sophomore Jake Abrahams '14 and junior Hrishi Srinagesh '13, who lost a tough one down contest.
Going into singles, the Ephs needed to gain five out of the possible eight points against Amherst to ensure their 15th straight title. With players going out in reverse order, suspense built as the event drew to a close. The Ephs split their first two matches, with Srinagesh losing and Xu coming back from a 3-down nine hole deficit to win 2 up. Williams then won its next two decisions, convincing 7&6 and 5&4 victories by Semmelrock and Bowen, respectively. The tides turned when Abrahams lost on the 16th hole, and then McCarron the 17th. In its final two matches, Williams could only earn half a point each from Chang and Dethier. This gave the Lord Jeffs a dramatic 6.5-5.5 victory.
Head Coach Rick Pohle gave the following assessment of his team's play: "I felt we struggled with controlling our shots distance-wise on a number of occasions which led to crucial swings in many matches and with the exception of just a few matches, we seemed to be playing to catch up in the matches most of the day. We definitely had our share of penalty strokes which gave them a number of holes without any challenge. Yet in the end, we had the opportunity to tie the match and eventually win on the tiebreaker."
Pohle also praised Amherst's play: "Our hats off to Amherst College for their fine play. They deserved to win the title today. I am not going to single out any instances. We simple lost as a team to a better performance, just as we would have won as a team with many gutsy performances."
The team was certainly disappointed with the result. Pohle addressed this point: "I think a number of players were disappointed that our streak of 14 championships in a row ended, but in the long run I think it was time. I could see that Amherst was making strides in recent years and it was only a matter of time that they finished the deal. They will be psyched to defend next season on their home course and we will have to be ready to step it up."
The Ephs will get a chance to rebound from the defeat this weekend when they host seven NESCAC programs at the Williams Spring Invitational. The team will look to regain its form at Taconic Golf Club, with tee times set to begin at noon on Saturday.