Royals Lose Hard-Fought 5-4 Match To Ithaca In NCAA Tournament First Round
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The University of Scranton women’s tennis team made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, but the Royals’ memorable day ended in heart-breaking fashion as Ithaca College won four of six singles matches to rally for a 5-4 victory over the Royals in an NCAA Tournament first-round match at Middlebury College on Friday afternoon.
The match was a see-saw affair with neither team leading by more than a point at any time during the match. Tied 4-4, the match came down to No. 4 singles, where the Bombers pulled out a tense 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 victory to advance.
Scranton (9-6) took an early 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of doubles victories. Freshman Nicole Mahaffey (Harrisburg, Pa./Trinity) and Megan Azzalina (Easton, Pa./Notre Dame) got the Royals off on the right foot with an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles over Ithaca freshman Allison Vizgaitis (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) and senior Kelsey Harness (Allegan, Mich./Allegan).
After Ithaca (12-7) rallied for an 8-6 win at second doubles, the Royals received an 8-5 win at No. 1 doubles from sophomores Stephanie Buccuzzi (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) and Devon Cohen (Ambler, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) over Ithaca junior Allison Young (Newport, R.I./The Prout School) and senior Becky Campbell (Chadds Ford, Pa./Sanford School).
The Bombers took a 3-2 lead with victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. The match remained a see-saw battle as Mahaffey pulled the Royals even with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles over Ithaca
Ithaca, which is making its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, came back with a win at fifth singles to take a 4-3 lead, but Royals senior Elisha Connell (Orangeburg, N.Y./Albertus Magnus) pulled out a hard-fought 6-1, 0-6, 6-4 victory at No. 3 singles to knot the match at four.
But the Bombers clinched the match by rallying for the victory at No. 4 singles to advance to the second round on Saturday against the host school, Middlebury.
The Royals’ season ends after having captured their first Landmark Conference championship and their first conference title since winning the Freedom Conference in 1999. Mahaffey, who won all six of her postseason matches, and Azzalina finished the season going 9-3 at No. 3 doubles, including four straight victories to end the year. Connell’s singles victory was her 10th of the season, one behind Azzalina for the team lead.