By Andrew Zuhosky
The 2014-15 season for the Youngstown State University men’s golf team was one that had its ups and downs along the way.
The Penguins started the season with consecutive first-place finishes in the Whistling Straits Invitational and the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational, but finished fifth in the Horizon League championship.
Aside from one true freshman, Jacob Harrah out of Newton Falls, as well as redshirt freshmen Dominic Carano out of Canfield, Jason McQuown out of Poland and Evan Standohar out of Girard, the roster is virtually identical to last season.
YSU head coach Tony Joy found the lack of turnover among the roster to be beneficial going into this season.
“It was nice,” Joy said. “We have three seniors back this fall and the schedule is pretty much the same as it was last year, which means the guys have the experience of playing those golf courses under these types of conditions. We’ve got one or two guys who will probably break into the lineup that are new, but it’s nice having seniors.”
Bill Gaffney, Brandon Pluchinsky and D.J. Holub are returning for their senior campaigns. Last year, Gaffney appeared in all competitions for the Penguins, winding up in the top 10 of the leaderboard four times and the top three twice. Pluchinsky had the team high in strokes per round average last season (73.3). A year ago, Holub’s best finish in a tournament was a third-place tie in the Marshall Invitational, where he had a total score of 211.
Pluchinsky and Joy are looking forward to returning to the Marshall Invitational. The Penguins won the tournament last year in a 15-team field. This year’s Marshall Invitational will be just as deep.
“There are four or five different leagues represented there,” Joy said. “We’re looking forward to going back. The guys will be anxious to try to repeat and anytime you can repeat in an event, it validates that you’re a competitive team.”
Pluchinsky reflected on last year’s successes at the Marshall Invitational and gave his expectations for this year’s tournament.
“That event was great,” he said. “We all played really well. We had three people under par. Bill led us; he was four under par. D.J. was two under. It was really a great team effort. This year, I don’t see why it can’t be the same as last year. We’re just missing Bryan Yeo, our senior leader from last year. We look forward to going back down there and repeating from last year.”
Joy said Pluchinsky and Gaffney are the most consistent players on the roster. He said the two seniors are consistent and will play an important role in the success of the team this season.
With a number of his players returning from a season that resulted in three top-five finishes during the regular season, Joy also hopes for a conference championship this year.
“I’ve got three seniors this season and if I can’t contend with what I have, it’ll be a disappointing season,” he said. “I think we’ll get out of the blocks quickly. Going up to Colgate, we should be very competitive there, and then actually all of fall, we’ve got a chance to be very competitive. In the spring, we’ll travel to Indiana University, Penn State and the University of Georgia, getting into some of the top schools in the country. Obviously, you want to play well but may not be able to win at that level, but I think we’ll be competitive.”