Fairfield Warde's boys golf team overcome a match-best 1-under par 35 by Ludlowe standout Thomas Kelly in an FCIAC battle at the H. Smith Richardson Golf Course on Monday afternoon. The Mustangs shot a 161 as a team and the Falcons had a 170 on a sunny and windy afternoon.

The Mustangs prevailed thanks to depth and consistency throughout the lineup. Only two strokes separated Warde's top four golfers, allowing the Mustangs to come out on top and improve to 11-8 (10-7 in the FCIAC). Ludlowe might have lost to its cross-town rivals, but the Falcons did pick up a win by outshooting St. Joseph of Trumbull, which shot a 195. Ludlowe left the course at 6-6 in the conference and overall. Warde did not compete against St. Joseph in this match.

Warde coach Bob Bigonette said the win sealed an FCIAC tournament spot for his squad. It hurt Ludlowe's conference playoff chances, Falcons coach Dan Kleps said. Regardless of the FCIAC standings, both teams can eye state tournament play in the coming weeks.

Hunter Rempe shot a 39, Tom Gannon had a 40 and Tyler Mazut and Nick Cotto both fired a 41 for the Mustangs.

"We're very consistent," Bigonette said. "We have a very balanced team."

Bigonette said his team responded to the pressure of facing its friendly rivals.

"Playing the Falcons always brings out a little more concentration and competitiveness," Bigonette said.

"It definitely makes it a little more interesting," Rempe said of a match against Ludlowe as opposed to any other day on the course. "It makes me more competitive."

Ludlowe's Jack Armstrong said the matchup doesn't make a big difference for him. "You hope to shoot low and have good scores," he said.

It wasn't so easy to have good scores on this day, with blustery conditions making things tricky for the golfers.

"It definitely cost the kids a few shots here or there, but it was the same for everyone," Bigonette said.

Dane Vanderblue shot a 43, Armstrong had a 44, and Daniel Henry had a 48 for Ludlowe, in addition to Kelly's 35.

Kleps said some of his golfers recently made small adjustments to their swings in an effort to improve their games and he said his golfers getting accustomed to those tweaks -- and the fact muscle memory hasn't kicked in and made those swings more natural yet -- proved costly in the match.

"Golf is a tricky game -- two steps forward, one step back," Kleps said of the philosophy of altering swings.

Kleps said he wants to see his team bounce back. "I'd just like them to not get discouraged when they have a bad hole," he said.

The Mustangs, meanwhile, were thrilled to come out with the win.

"I'm very pleased," Bigonette said. "We seem to be rounding into shape as the postseason comes up."

Following the match, Warde had only a Tuesday match with McMahon separating it from the postseason. Ludlowe, meanwhile, had four dates remaining on the schedule, including a chance to pick up four wins in a match against the four Bridgeport schools on Wednesday.

Andy Hutchison is a freelance reporter