ST. JOHN | Lake Central coach Chris Rossiano urged his golfers to focus all week and asserted the idea one stroke could be all the difference.
The notion proved to be prophetic.
That hypothetical stroke had a major influence as the Indians and defending Lake Central Sectional champion Munster had to re-lace their shoes, unzip the bags and tee it up for a rare 5-on-5 team playoff hole.
After both teams recorded scores of 330, the team score of 2-over to 3-over (throwing out the low men) was the difference as the Indians avenged last season’s loss to Munster and won their sixth title in seven years Friday afternoon at Palmira Golf & Country Club.
“Throughout my high school career, there’ve been more than 10 matches where we tied or lost by one,” L.C. senior Mike Barenie said. “I’ve played four years here (at Palmira), and we didn’t want to go out with a loss.”
The typical fifth-man tiebreaker was not a factor because both teams’ worst scores were identical. On the playoff hole, Palmira’s par-4 No. 1, Lake Central’s Matt Meneghetti, who was his team’s fifth scorer, came up with a saving putt to prevent another playoff hole.
Two days after winning the Duneland Athletic Conference meet by 10 strokes, albeit in temperatures 30 degrees higher, the Indians used their home course advantage to persevere through brutal conditions that often included rain.
“This was awesome, exciting and a good way to end it,” Rossiano said. “I’ve never seen (a team playoff) like that before.
“It was a big week for us. We have a couple seniors, and it’s nice to go into the end of their careers as champions.”
Barenie, despite a mild bout of illness, led L.C. with a 77 through the regulation 18 holes, while fellow senior TC Cameron fired a 79.
“I was just trying to not do anything stupid,” Barenie said of a round that included hitting 11 greens in regulation and back-to-back birdies on holes 12 and 13.
Munster junior A.J. Gauthier was medalist with a 75, and teammate Matt Specht had a 78. Gauthier double-bogeyed No. 8 but birdied No. 9 and eagled No. 12 “What got me through today was that everyone was in the same conditions,” Gauthier said. “When the ball would balloon or I was putting in the rain, I knew everyone was experiencing the same thing and it was just a grind.
“It’s disappointing that we lost, but next week’s another week.”
Highland, led by Mike Urban’s 85, was the third team earning a berth in next Friday’s LaPorte Regional.
The final individual spot for golfers on non-qualifying teams also went to a playoff.
Griffith’s Nicholas Stassin (90) parred the first playoff hole, par-3 No. 18, to edge Hanover Central’s Dan Nowitski. A senior, Stassin joins teammate Mark Plawecki (84) in the regional along with Nowtiski’s teammate Trever Thoms (86).
“I was very nervous, but it was better because I know (Nowitski) and we’re buddies,” Stassin said. “That was probably the most nerve-racking two-foot putt of my life.”