Paul Croghan knows how important every stroke counts. He also knows the importance of peaking at the right time of the year.
Croghan, who is the Carson High girls and boys golf coach, figures to go through another season this fall in girls golf in which his team could again compete for one of three spots from the Northern 4A into the NIAA/U.S. Bank State Championships.
But Croghan knows that his team's chances will be determined by how well it plays at the zone tournament. He also knows too well that his team's chances could come down to one stroke.
That was the case the past two seasons with his boys golf teams, which were denied a berth in the state tournament by one stroke.
But that wasn't the case last year for Croghan's young girls golf team, which made a surprising run at the end of the year last season and peaked at the right time in the zone tournament to qualify for the state championships.
With five girls back from last year's team, it figures that Carson has a strong chance to again make the state tournament. But Croghan isn't taking any chances. "I'm hoping for the best," he said.
Croghan is stressing the short game as practice has begun to emphasize the point that every stroke counts.
"I tried to tell them already how important each stroke is," he said.
Croghan said the key will be for his team to show steady improvement as it did last year.
"We played our best golf in the zone tournament," Croghan said. "That's important."
It's a two-edged sword for Croghan, who has several outstanding athletes on his team. But that means that his players didn't have the chance to spend too much time on the golf course this summer.
"They didn't put a whole lot of time in during the past summer," Croghan said. "They're kind of diversified, which is great. They're very busy playing other sports and that was fine, too."
Returning for Carson are junior Ciarra Christian, sophomores Liz Rankl and Amanda Carvin and junior Lindsay Farnworth. The only senior, Megan Good, who played in two tournaments last year, is also back. Erica McAfee, who was part of last year's team, returns as well. In all, there are 12 players on the team.
Carson, though, was hurt by the loss of Gabby Gallegos, who played for the team last year as a freshman. Gallegos moved to live with her mother and is attending McQueen, Croghan said.
The Senators don't have the one "superstar," but all the players are solid.
"If you have four or five that are consistent and shooting in the 90s like we did last year, you can go a long ways," Croghan said. "I'd rather have three or four that are steady and take a couple of shots here or there."
As always is the case, Croghan isn't concerned about the state tournament, yet. He's focused on making the zone tournament in which the top eight teams qualify.
Even though a match hasn't been played, yet, and it's too early to handicap the north, Croghan said he knows that Galena will be strong again. The first Northern 4A golf match will be held on Wednesday at Sierra Sage in Stead. Thunder Canyon will host this year's state tournament.
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.