Nova Southeastern looks to bounce back
Nova Southeastern’s bid for back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships came to a close in a way that senior Mitch Farrer could only call heartbreaking.
The Sharks fell in the match-play semifinals to Barry using a cumulative-score tiebreaker. The difference was only two strokes. The opponent made it hurt even more.
“There’s a huge rivalry, actually,” Farrer said. “Not all of the team likes Barry, and they probably don’t like us, but it’s friendly. It’s because we want to beat each other, really.
“It was heartbreaking, to be honest. We thought we were going to have to play Barry at some point because they are very strong. Everyone was completely up for it, and it just ended up going to strokes gained. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time we were sportsmanlike. If the result had gone the other way, I doubt they would have been that way.”
Nova Southeastern and Barry are separated by about 18 miles in South Florida. The two schools hold the past two championships.
“The [Sunshine State Conference] is by far the strongest conference in Division II,” Farrer said. “Our conference is brilliant. Every player from us, Barry and Lynn could play at the Division I level.”
Nova Southeastern returns four of its five contributors at the championship last season, including seniors Farrer and Ricardo Celia. Junior Ben Taylor, a Divison II First Team All-American selection for the Sharks last year, transferred to LSU.
Head coach Ryan Jamison’s roster features seven players with international roots.
“It is difficult to adjust to Florida, but it definitely helps to have an international team,” Jamison said. “They work together, want to improve together and are very coachable. A lot of them come from having a national-team background, so they have that experience."
Said Farrer, a native of England: “We have that international camaraderie. The atmosphere over here takes some getting used to, so me and Ricardo take the freshmen on board and show them the ropes.”
Farrer believes that connection could lead the Sharks back to the championship, but it will be a learning process along the way. The team saw that first-hand at the Brickyard Crossing Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday.
Nova Southeastern took third at the tournament. Coming in first was Barry.
“It was a rusty start, I would say,” Farrer said. “We’re going to do great this year, but from the first tournament it was just learning what we need to do to get better.”
Said Jamison: “We have a relatively younger team, so there’s going to be a process of getting better each tournament.”
Farrer and his teammates hope to improve to reach the championship once again, and maybe take down Barry along the way.