HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Goucher gave top-seeded Juniata everything it could handle in today's Landmark Championship match, becoming the first conference team all season to take two doubles matches from the Eagles.
Juniata, though, rallied to win four of the five completed singles matches and clinch its first Landmark title with a 5-3 victory over the visiting Gophers.
The loss ends a highly-successful season for Goucher (14-6), which finished with its best record since 2003-04 and made its debut appearance in the Landmark postseason.
"I'm very proud of the effort we displayed today as a team," head coach Brendan Kincaid said. "Juniata is a very talented team and they proved that with their performance today. We played our best team match of the season in doubles but just couldn't sustain the momentum into singles."
Jack Hodges (London, England/Shrewsbury School) and Midori Fujitani (Tokyo, Japan/International School Bangkok) earned the first point of the match with an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles. In doing so, they became the first conference duo to defeat Juniata's tandem of Logan Moore and Sho Sato all season.
The Eagles (16-4) evened the match when Bryan Gregory and Michael Lifshitz topped Britt Shortle (Lake Mary, Fla./Trinity Preparatory School) and Josh Goldberg (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County) 8-3 at No. 3 doubles, but the Gophers went back on top when Seth Hoesman (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) and Joey Caracappa (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Saddlebrook Preparatory School) bested Dean Polisena and Matyas Kohout by an 8-6 score at No. 1.
Juniata had swept the three doubles matches when the two teams met during the regular season on April 18.
By taking 2 of 3, Goucher needed to win three of the six singles matches to claim its first men's tennis championship. The Eagles, though, took the first set in four of those contests, and Polisena tied things up at 2-2 after beating Caracappa 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1.
Goucher jumped back ahead when Hodges completed a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sato at No. 3, but Juniata clinched the title with three straight-set victories in succession at No. 5, No. 4 and No. 2.
Shortle had taken the first set 6-2 in his match against Lifshitz at No. 6, and the two were heading to a second-set tiebreaker when Kohout ended things at No. 2.
With his victory, Hodges ends the year on a six-match winning streak, and he went 13-3 in dual matches overall this spring.
Gregory, who went a perfect 8-0 in singles during the regular season and emerged with a 6-2, 6-2 win this afternoon at No. 4, was announced as tournament MVP afterwards.
"Juniata really stepped up and played well at the end," Kincaid said. "Hopefully we can learn from this experience and be back next year."