NESCAC Second Round: No. 1 Middlebury 5, No. 5 Bowdoin 2

NESCAC Second Round: No. 1 Middlebury 5, No. 5 Bowdoin 2

Courtesy Williams Sports Information

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The top two seeds of the 2017 NESCAC Women's Tennis Championship entered the fray on Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round, with the first of the two duals seeing the top-seeded Panthers of Middlebury College take on the fifth-seeded Polar Bears of Bowdoin College and Middlebury emerging victorious, 5-2.

The top-seeded Panthers (14-3) advance to the championship match Sunday at 1 p.m. against second seeded Williams (14-4). 

The Panthers dominated the early-goings in doubles, quickly claiming two of the three doubles points, thanks to the work of Catherine Blazye and Kaysee Orozco, who defeated Tess Trinka and Tasha Christ, 8-4, as well as Skylar Schossberger and Katherine Hughes, who bested Joulia Likhanskaia and Sam Stalder by the same margin.

The Panthers, however, could not polish off what could have been a sweep of doubles. Up 7-4 and 8-7 in the final doubles match, Alexandra Fields and Christina Puccinelli could not finish the job on Court 3, as Pilar Giffenig and Sasa Jovanovic came charging back to force an 8-all tiebreaker, and completing their comeback with an 8-6 win to get teh Polar Bears on the board.

The Panthers didn't dwell long on their blip from the third doubles match, and they came again looking the superior side in singles.

Quick wins on Courts 2 and 3, from Puccinelli and Heather Boehm respectively, saw the Panthers draw to within one of clinching their spot in the NESCAC Championship on Sunday, but the Polar Bears began to fight back, with Likhanskaia tallying the Polar Bears' second point of the dual with her 7-5, 6-3 win over Fields on Court 1.

Middlebury's Molly Paradies concluded the match when she won the first set 6-3 against Bowdoin's Pilar Giffenig. She took a 4-2 lead in the second set before Giffenig won three straight games to go up 5-4. Paradies rallied to win the next three games to win 7-5 and give the Panthers the win.