TOWSON, Md. — Just as it did when the two teams met during the regular season, Goucher owned a 2-1 lead over Juniata at the conclusion of the doubles competition in this afternoon's Landmark Conference championship match.
The first match to conclude in singles play today was No. 6, which was one of two singles matches the Eagles claimed in their 6-3 loss to head coach Brendan Kincaid's squad back on April 10. This time, however, Josh Goldberg (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County) earned a huge point for the top-seeded Gophers as he pinned a 6-4, 6-4 setback on Logan Moore.
Midori Fujitani (Tokyo, Japan/International School Bangkok) was the next to finish and his 7-6 (5), 6-4 triumph over Daichi McAuliffe-Uchida at No. 5 put Goucher up 4-1.
Dean Polisena, the two-time defending Landmark Conference Player of the Year, kept Juniata's hopes of repeating as conference champion alive by knocking off Joey Caracappa (Smithtown, N.Y./Saddlebrook Preparatory School) 7-6 (4), 6-4 at first singles, but Seth Hoesman (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) put the final nail in the coffin when he extended his winning streak to 19 matches with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Matyas Kohout at No. 3. The match was halted at that point since the Gophers were up 5-2 and there were only two unfinished matches remaining (click HERE to see celebration which followed Hoesman's match point).
The conference title is the first in the 28-year history of Goucher's men's tennis program.
"I told the guys after the match that they did something nobody else can ever do. Nobody else can be the first team to win a conference title because this one did that today," Kincaid commented. "It's something to be very proud of. It's been our goal ever since we lost to Juniata in last year's championship match to win it all this year. They needed to perform well today in order to make it happen, and they did."
Hoesman, who improved to 22-1 in singles play this season, was chosen MVP of the Landmark playoffs.
"Good for Seth; it was very deserving," Kincaid said about the senior who won a program-record 61st singles match today. "Seth has played a big part in what we've done to turn our program around. He was here when we struggled and I'm glad he was still here to experience what happened today."
The Eagles (13-9) assumed a 1-0 lead in the match with an 8-4 win by Bryan Gregory and Owen Grafe over Josiah Meekins (Trenton, N.J./Princeton Day School) and Elliot Diehl (York, Pa./York Suburban) at third doubles. The Gophers (19-4) prevailed in the other two doubles matches: Caracappa and Hoesman defeated Polisena and Roy Liberman, 8-6, at No. 1 and Fujitani and Jack Hodges (London, England/Shrewsbury School) topped Kohout and Moore, 8-5, at No. 2.
As the Landmark Connference champion, Goucher is awarded an automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Championships. The 43-team field and bracket will be revealed on Monday. First-round matches will take place Friday, May 13.