Last season, the Birdies suffered a heart-rending loss to the Tottenville Pirates in the PSAL City Championships. The Birdies’ loss ended a bid to become City Champions for a second straight season. Though five seniors graduated last spring, including Sarah Soo-Hoo (’12), the strongest player last season, the team is not short on talent. Senior and captain Rosen Jeong, now the number-one starter, is expected to lead the team back into the playoffs. “Rosen is my most experienced player, and I have seen her play a lot over the last three years,” coach Emilio Nieves said. “So at this point, she deserves to be the number-one player on our team.”
Jeong lived up to expectations, leading the Birdies to a 4-0 victory over the Hunter Hawks in their season opener. “I was never the first starter. I was the fourth starter my freshman year and moved up to third starter my sophomore and junior year, so being the first starter was definitely a different experience for me,” Jeong said.
Though Jeong is the only senior on the team, there are a few up-and-coming stars who will have a chance to prove themselves this season. One of them, sophomore Sabrina Chan, has been the second starter for the team. “I am excited to see Sabrina Chan’s development as a golfer,” Nieves said. “She has great potential.”
On the other hand, several players on the team lack playing experience, but Nieves “expect[s] them to show more growth and consistency each match,” he said.
As it is still early in the season, Nieves hasn’t decided on a set starting lineup. He has until the fifth game to determine a permanent lineup and plans to use the first four to try out different rotations. “Right now I have about eight players that I plan on using for the matches,” Nieves said.
One of the main issues coming into this season is team chemistry and leadership. Last year, there was a lack of team dynamic, but the Birdies look forward to better sportsmanship coming into the season. “I definitely expect Rosen to step up as a senior and leader of the team,” Nieves said.
Though the Birdies are rebuilding to some extent, they still expect to have their third consecutive undefeated season and a fourth consecutive playoff berth. However, the main focus will be on improving and polishing a fairly inexperienced team. “In golf you always are always working on getting better at everything from driving to using irons to putting,” Nieves said.