TOWSON, Md. — For a whole slew of reasons, Goucher's 8-1 victory over Catholic today was especially satisfying to head coach Brendan Kincaid and his players.
Most of the reasons are obvious: Catholic is the defending Landmark Conference champion and pinned a 9-0 setback on Kincaid's squad last season; the win vaulted Goucher into a tie with Juniata for first place in the 2014-15 Landmark standings; by winning, the Gophers not only clinched a berth in the conference's upcoming postseason tournament, but were also guaranteed being no lower than the No. 2 seed; it ended Catholic's seven-match winning streak against Goucher; it was the first win by the Gophers over the Cardinals since they pulled off a 6-3 upset in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Capital Athletic Conference playoffs.
The Gophers apparently didn't need any more incentive.
"It was a very gratifying win after losing to that team, 9-0, a year ago," Kincaid said following the match. "Hopefully this puts momentum on our side with our match against Juniata now just days away. I thought that the team that came out on top today was the one that was more disciplined and mentally tougher."
Seth Hoesman (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) and Joey Caracappa (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Saddlebrook Preparatory School) earned the first point for the Gophers (12-4, 6-0 Landmark) with their convincing 8-2 triumph over Juan Lorido and Rocky Alhaqbani at first doubles.
Goucher went on to sweep the doubles matches, getting an 8-5 win from Jack Hodges (London, England/Shrewsbury School) and Midori Fujitani (Tokyo, Japan/International School Bangkok) over Jan Lasota and Matthew Holtschneider at No. 2 and an 8-4 victory from Josh Goldberg (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County) and Britt Shortle (Lake Mary, Fla./Trinity Preparatory School) over Conor Wilson and Jon Purowitz at No. 3.
Caracappa met up with Lorida again at first singles. The freshman, who was at No. 1 for only the second time in his young career, took the opening set from Lorida, 6-4, and was up 3-1 in the second when his opponent, who was 7-1 overall and 5-0 in Landmark Conference matches at first singles in 2014-15, retired.
Hodges was triumphant over Holtschneider 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 and Fujitani regained the team lead in singles wins this season by topping Alhaqbani 6-3, 6-4 at No. 4, improving to 14-6 overall.
Shortle was a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Wilson at No. 5; at No. 6, Goldberg dropped the second set, but came back to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-1) victory over Purowitz.
The Cardinals (6-7, 4-3 Landmark) salvaged one point thanks to Lasota's 6-3, 6-2 win over Hoesman at second singles.
The tie atop the Landmark Conference standings between Goucher and Juniata will be broken Saturday when the two teams go to battle in Huntingdon, Pa. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.