The reigning Ivy League champion men’s golf team will begin its season this weekend faced with the task of trying to match one of its best seasons in recent years.

A second consecutive win at the Sebonack Golf Course this Sunday against Harvard and Princeton would be a good start. The Bulldogs cruised to victory at the tournament last year, winning eight out 10 matches, but it could be a tougher competition for the Bulldogs this year after being faced with replacing former captain Tom McCarthy ’11, a three–time first-team All–Ivy selection and the 2010 conference Player of the Year. His second place finish at Galloway in April led the Bulldogs to its first title since 2003.

But the team is confident that others are ready to step and take McCarthy’s place.

“Despite the loss of Tom McCarthy, we should be able to sustain the success of last season,” Russell Holmes ’13 said. “A lot of our starting lineup is returning and our early season practices indicate a lot of competition within the team, which is key to maintaining a high level of play.”

Before last season, the Ancient Eight title had proven elusive for the team, as the Bulldogs fell short of winning the league title for three straight years, finishing just a few strokes behind the winner each time.

But the Bulldogs dominated last year’s Ivy League Championship, beating Columbia by 20 strokes at the Galloway National Golf Club and ending the Lions’ bid for a fourth consecutive Ivy title.

“Our ultimate goal for the year is to defend our [title],” captain Jeff Hatten ’12 said. “If we all keep our goals in mind and commit to them I think we will have an excellent shot at repeating last year’s success.”

The odds on a repeat title are in Yale’s favor, according to prominent college golf website, which gave the Elis the top ranking in the Ivy League. But the team will face stiff competition from traditional powers such as Columbia, Penn, and Princeton.

The Bulldogs are also expecting key contributions from William Davenport ’15 and Thomas Greenhalgh ’15 as well as walk–on John McNiff ’15. Davenport was ranked among the 200 junior golfers in the world by Golfweek and Greenhalgh was selected in 2009 to represent the U.K. on a tour of the U.S.

“I think we have a very good team this year,” Kushner said. “We got three great freshman golfers this year that can easily fill the place [of the graduated seniors]. The rest of the team worked hard on their games over the summer.”

Two of last season’s top performers, Hatten and Brad Kushner ’13, are expected to have another strong season. Both tied for fourth at the Ivy League Championship and were selected for the All–Ivy first team.

Sam Bernstein ’14 will try to continue the momentum from an impressive freshman campaign, in which he notched five top–10 finishes and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Last year, the Elis competed in the NCAA Regional Tournament for the first time since 2003 and finished 13th out of 22 schools, including national powerhouses Duke and Georgia Tech. A victory at the Ivy League Championship would guarantee a repeat appearance in this year’s tournament.

“[The NCAA tournament] was a great experience and I know if we make it back this year, we can look to improve our performance from last year.” Kushner said.