COLCHESTER, Vt. - Nearly midway through the fall leg of its 2019-20 season, the Saint Michael's College men's golf team has competed against some of the toughest competition in the region during two tournaments thus far. The Purple Knights continue the run of challenging golf this coming Sunday and Monday at the Northeast-10 Conference Championship. The action at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., begins at 12 p.m. on the opening day and 9 a.m. on day two.
A veteran core has led the Purple and Gold this season, with senior Matt Johnson (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional) firing the low score at both tournaments and at least matching the team's best stroke total in four of five rounds while leading the squad with a 73.4-stroke average. Junior Connor Morse (Westford, Mass./Kimball Union Academy) and sophomore Owen O'Malley (Marshfield, Mass./Marshfield) swapped between team's No. 2 and 3 positions at the first two meets, leading to averages of 79.0 and 80.4, respectively. First-year Brendan Locke (Marblehead, Mass./Marblehead) took the fourth spot twice en route to averaging 81.4 shots.
Johnson opened the year by placing second at the Franklin Pierce University Fall Invitational on Sept. 8-9, when he bested all NE10 competitors. The Purple Knights were ninth out of 14 schools, with six of the teams they trailed having qualified for last spring's NCAA Atlantic/East Regional Championship. In the three-round Southern New Hampshire University Penmen Fall Invitational on Sept. 23-24, Saint Michael's was 10th among 16 varsity squads, trailing seven regionals qualifiers while besting one: Dominican (N.Y.) College. Johnson tied for 21st.
For the second straight year, the NE10 Championship will take place at the En-Joie Golf Club, where the Purple Knights took 10th among 10 schools last fall. However, Saint Michael's posted its second-best score at NE10s in program history while competing in a field that included four eventual NCAA qualifiers. Thanks in large part to the program's performance over the past two seasons under fifth-year head coach Jason Bedard, and Johnson himself becoming the first Purple Knight to participate in an NCAA Championship event last spring, the Purple and Gold was chosen seventh in a pre-championship coaches' poll, which was released by the conference office on Thursday. With 36 points, Saint Michael's was only two short of sixth-place The College of Saint Rose. Assumption College topped the rankings (71).