SEASON PREVIEW: Men's Golf To Open 2018 Season With 15th Annual Pitt-Bradford Invitational Saturday

SEASON PREVIEW: Men's Golf To Open 2018 Season With 15th Annual Pitt-Bradford Invitational Saturday

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford men's golf team's 2018 season tees off with the 15th annual Pitt-Bradford Invitational Saturday at Pine Acres Country Club.

Led by reigning AMCC Coach of the Year Keith Stauffer, Pitt-Bradford brings back a strong contingent from last year's squad, namely 2017 All-AMCC honorees junior Matt Moonan and sophomore Cary Ignaczak.

A back-to-back All-Conference selection, Moonan was named the AMCC's Player of the Week on Oct. 2 and averaged 82.40 last season, the 29th-best in the conference. His best round of the season came with a score of 75 at Westminster (Sept. 25) to help the Panthers to a second-place finish. The Bradford native also finished ninth in the AMCC Championships with a score of 155 in the two-day event.

Ignaczak finished his rookie campaign with the best average score for the Panthers at 77.60, eighth best in the AMCC. The Derby, N.Y., native led the Panthers with a 153 score at the AMCC Championships. His season-low score of 72 came at Penn State-Altoona (Sept. 16).

Also back for the Panthers are juniors Jamie Rook and Sam Marchini.

Rook led the Panthers to the program's all-time best round of 301 at Penn State-DuBois (Sept. 13) by shooting an even-par 71. Marchini posted the 22nd best average score in the AMCC at 82.0 during his sophomore campaign in 2017.

"Cary and Matt are going to be the two I'll look to for leadership," Stauffer said. "But Jamie and Sam are swinging it really well so far this season, so we're looking really strong in terms of our returners."

New to the Panthers' roster this fall is senior Brayden Snyder (Bradford, Pa.), juniors Johnny Fiore (Marana, Ariz.) and Cooper Cordova (Tuscan, Ariz.) and freshman Jarod Chaffee (Rochester, N.Y.).

"Our two guys from Arizona, Cooper and Johnny, both have a lot of tournament experience and have great temperament on the golf course," Stauffer said. "There's not a whole lot of teaching necessary with those guys, but just a bit of coaching. They're going to be real good. And our guy from Rochester, Jarod, is off to a great start and doing quite well, too." 

2018 marks the 11th straight season the Panthers will start the season with the Pitt-Bradford Invitational. Among the 16 other teams competing will be the eight other Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference golf programs: Penn State-Behrend, La Roche, Pitt-Greensburg, Penn State-Altoona, Hilbert, Medaille, D'Youville and Mt. Aloysius.

"We're looking to get off to a good start," Stauffer said. "The way our guys are playing right now, I'm very optimistic. I always like hosting all of our conference teams at our home course to start the season because it serves as a barometer of where we stand in the AMCC from the beginning."

Pitt-Bradford has finished fourth out of nine teams in the last two AMCC Championships. This year's championship will take place Oct. 7-8 once again at Avalon Lakes Country Club in Youngstown, Ohio. 

"Throughout the season, we're going to see all the teams in our conference many times, so we'll look to keep building and learning and hopefully it all comes together at the conference championship," Stauffer concluded. 

But before looking ahead to the end of the season, Stauffer is thrilled with the way his team is meshing during the preseason.

"The whole team is coming together really well," Stauffer said of his squad. "Our older players are taking the younger players under their wings, and we're like one big happy family. That's how I like to keep it. Having fun and helping each other."