BERLIN - After the Berlin girls golf team shattered its season-best finish by 10 strokes in a win against rival Newington on Monday, head coach Jim Barnes was more encouraged by the team’s mindset after the match than the performance itself.
The Redcoats had just played their best golf of the season, but the focus was on how it still didn’t reflect their true potential.
“With the round we had on Monday, the girls said they thought it could have been even better,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “I think we have to prove to ourselves we can do that.”
Berlin ended its three-match week with two wins, including Monday’s incredibly promising performance that has the Redcoats thinking about more than their current lead in the conference standings. If the team can continue to improve upon its new team-best score of 201, the state tournament isn’t out of the question.
“They all have shown at times that they can hit all shots,” Barnes said. “It’s just a matter of getting them to hit more balls and be more consistent with their stat line. If we can do that, we can hang with a lot of teams. I like where we are in the conference right now, but we have to pick up our game a bit if we want to reach states. We just have to avoid the big mistakes throughout the round.”
Berlin has been avoiding such mistakes, for the most part, as the season move along, which Barnes credits to an ability to get on the course more often as the harsh early spring weather passes. With more opportunities to take swings and get into a rhythm, the team’s confidence is growing.
“It feels good to see that we’re getting better as a team and working better together,” Rachel Varley said after shooting a 51 in Wednesday’s win over New Britain.
In addition to improved weather leading to improved performances, Barnes and the Redcoats have received a more steady contribution from the bottom of its lineup thanks to Morgan Jones, who has come along and been a steady contributor to help make Berlin more whole.
“We’ve got four girls pretty much established as the top four, but we’ve been grappling with finding a No. 5,” Barnes explained. “But Morgan Jones has recently really stepped up. She finished second for our team on Tuesday and third on Monday. We may have found our number five there. That may be our X-factor. It’s unrealistic to think every girl will have a great day, so you have to have a sense of balance.”
Jones has helped bring that balance to the lineup of late, and takes the pressure off of the top of the roster, where Jessica Nappi and Bridget McQuillan have been consistently turning in quality performances during Berlin’s recent stretch of three wins in its last four head-to-head matches. McQuillan turned in a 45 in Monday’s win, but admittedly took a step back on Wednesday against the Hurricanes, which prompted Nappi to step up and claim the medal with a score of 49. As Barnes continues to receive valuable contributions from every spot in the lineup, he can only look ahead with hope that the Redcoats will complete their mission of continued improvement and reach the state tournament.
“We knew we were a young team coming in, but the girls have progressed nicely,” Barnes said. “I think we can sneak in there.”