by Matt Deutsch | Correspondent
The Nordonia High School girls golf team finished with a winning record in Jon Dombroski's first year as the head coach and the Lady Knights are looking to build upon that success in 2016.
Last year, Nordonia finished with an overall record of 7-5. The Lady Knights also were 3-4 in their first year of the Suburban League National Conference.
Despite the fact that Nordonia did not advance a player to the Division I district tournament, Dombroski was not disappointed with his team's performance.
"I was pleased with how the girls played, considering how inexperienced our team was when it came to postseason tournaments," he said. "Only one of the five girls who played at sectionals had played in the past."
Nordonia's biggest loss to graduation was team captain Karoline Kress.
"She not only provided vital team leadership, but she had the second lowest average on the team last year," Dombroski said.
The good news is that the remainder of last year's varsity squad is back.
Those golfers include seniors Bella Zak and Megan Ryan and juniors Delaney Monroe and Sydney Vitt.
"These four upperclassmen lead the way, both on and off the course," Dombroski said. "The best part is they all have the ability to not only score in the 40s, but also be the medalist on any given day."
Meanwhile, Nordonia's top newcomers include a trio of juniors: Jenna Stephens, Nicole Schmeiser and Megan Garvey.
"They have a lot of experience on our junior varsity team and have been waiting patiently for an opportunity to contribute on varsity," Dombroski said of the trio. "I fully expect a significant contribution from the three of them as they continue to hone their games."
According to Dombroski, continuity is one of the strengths of his team.
"Four of the six varsity players are returning letter winners," he said. "We have turned our inexperience from last year into a strength this year."
On the flip side of the coin, there are no sophomores on the roster. That could prove to be a problem some time in the future.
"We are an upper class-dominated team, so replenishing the cupboard is always an issue and in turn, a weakness," Dombroski said.
"We added a good core of freshmen this year, but we have a huge hole seeing that we have no sophomores, so depth might be an issue throughout the season."
Regardless of any depth issues, Dombroski expects the program to take another step forward during the 2016 campaign.
"Golf is a game of progression, sometimes subtle and other times drastic," he said.
"I fully expect to take the next step in the progression of what we built on last year.
"The key is to see if we can transfer potential into a positive outcome. We would like to compete for a conference title by the time this is all said and done. There is no time for steps backward; it is onward and upward."
Speaking of a conference title, Dombroski expects the rest of the teams in the National Conference to be as tough as ever.
"The usual suspects will be back as our stiffest competition," he said. "Hudson is a young and hungry team, Brecksville is arguably the deepest team in the league and Wadsworth is always a power player in conference."
Shaun Phillips is back as the junior varsity coach for Nordonia. This is his fourth year on the coaching staff.
The Lady Knights made their 2016 debut at the Kent Roosevelt Lady Rider Golf Invitational Aug. 6 at The Fairways at Twin Lakes in Kent.
Nordonia placed sixth in the morning flight with a score of 401.
Kent's junior varsity team won the 13-team invitational with a score of 362. Aurora (368) and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (372) finished second and third, respectively.
Copley's Kiley Blachaniec was the medalist with a score of 83.
Vitt led the Lady Knights with a score of 89. Also contributing to Nordonia's team score were Monroe (101), Ryan (105) and Zak (106).
The Lady Knights were scheduled to compete at the Blue Streak Invitational Aug. 9 at Sweetbriar Golf Club in Avon Lake. Results were not available at press time.
Nordonia is set to compete at the Warren JFK Tournament Aug. 11 at Trumbull Country Club in Warren. The Lady Knights are set to play at the Suburban League Preseason Tournament Aug. 12 at Barberton Brookside Country Club in Norton.
Both tournaments are set to begin at 8:30 a.m.
Nordonia is scheduled to play Aurora Aug. 16 at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club in Hudson. Play is set to begin at 2 p.m.