LINCOLN ‚ÄĒ In a magical undefeated season that has seen the entire team lose just eight sets and experience very few nailbiting moments, Mount St. Charles endured its share of anxiety eight days ago in its regular-season finale with one-loss Classical, which resulted in a 4-3 victory that went down to the wire.
This afternoon at Slater Park, the Mounties and Purple will renew acquaintances in a must-see encounter, and while their previous meeting was for the right to keep their ‚Äė0‚Äô intact in the loss column, today‚Äôs noon showdown will be for a much bigger prize, the Division II state championship.
The defending champion Mounties made their spot in today‚Äôs match official on Friday afternoon at Lincoln High‚Äôs courts in their semifinal-round affair with Chariho. Receiving convincing straight-set victories from Matt Ceh Castillo, Mike Doody, and Travis Connolly, the Mounties needed less than an hour to record a 4-0 triumph, their 13th win of the season and 17th straight dating back to last season.
The Mounties will pursue the sixth state championship in their program‚Äôs storied history in today‚Äôs clash with the second-seeded Purple, who posted a 4-2 win over the third-seeded Prout School in their semifinal-round test on Wednesday and will seek their third title and first since 1997.
‚ÄúI think it's going to be a very close match again,‚ÄĚ said Mount coach Sean McClelland. ‚ÄúHow can it not be? Our match with Classical was our closest of the season. They‚Äôre a strong team that‚Äôs well coached. I think we‚Äôll be up for the challenge, and I know they will be up for (the challenge) as well.‚ÄĚ
Before the Mounties stepped foot on the courts, they already had a 1-0 lead, thanks to a forfeit victory at third doubles that gave Matt Medeiros and Mitchell McCoy an easy win. The fourth-seeded Chargers had been unable to field a third-doubles team for all but three matches this year, yet still found a way to end up with a 10-4 mark.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a testament to their team,‚ÄĚ remarked McClelland, whose team netted a 6-1 triumph over the Chargers back on May 5. ‚ÄúTo say that they‚Äôve given up a point every single match and made it to the semifinals? That‚Äôs pretty good. That‚Äôs very good coaching and very good players.‚ÄĚ
Ceh Castillo picked up the Mounties‚Äô second victory at second singles by defeating Jason Darmanin, 6-3, 6-0, and minutes later, Mike Doody dabbed the finishing touches on a 6-1, 6-0 win in first singles over Will Masse.
Travis Connolly, who won the decisive fourth-singles battle in Mount‚Äôs win over Classical, soon finished the match by pitching a 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Joe Westerberg, who had defeated Connolly in straight sets during their regular-season matchup.
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