PAWTUCKET – The door was open and the Cumberland High tennis player with the funky hairdo answered the call.
With the Division II title hanging in the balance, Evan Goddard timed his jump perfectly while standing a few feet from the net. All eyes were on the 2021 graduate as he recorded the seventh and final point to decide the playoff portion of the No. 1 doubles match.
“That was an ESPN moment right there,” said Cumberland head coach Justin Kuncz.
Goddard’s point capped off a Saturday afternoon of activity at Slater Park that was not for the faint of heart as the third-seeded Clippers upset top seed and undefeated Mount St. Charles, 4-3. Cumberland rallied from down 2-0 and 3-1 to tie the match with Goddard and fellow alum Brady Moran grinding out a 7-5 win in the tiebreaker to deliver the program’s first D-II crown since 2010.
Goddard and Moran trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in the tiebreaker before summoning
just enough energy to outlast the Mount St. Charles duo of Peter Burke and Nick Rave. Officially, it went into the books as 5-7, 6-4, 7-6.
“Both teams were so evenly matched that it could have gone either way,” said Kuncz. “It was nerve-racking, but it was all worth it.”
“Ice in our veins,” said Moran. “I love the pressure.”
“It makes me play better,” said Goddard while standing next to his doubles partner.
Goddard and Moran will go down as the heroes and rightfully so. In terms of an unsung hero, look no further than Cumberland junior Tory Marsh. His 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over MSC’s Michael Burke at No. 4 singles tied the match at 2-2 just when it appeared the Mounties were on the verge of establishing firm control.
“Troy was huge. The way the court is set up, he was all by himself. You have all the fans congregating [near the fence that’s closest to the parking lot]. Very quietly, he took care of business,” said Kuncz. “You didn’t realize how well he was doing until he got fired up in the second set. He was really into it and continued to build on that momentum.
“You talk about No. 1 doubles as the clinching match, but the match that no one knew about was the key,” added Kuncz. “You can’t overlook [Marsh].”
For the Mounties, it was a tough ending for a group that made numerous strides this spring. MSC entered Saturday with a 10-0 record.
“This is the way the championship match should be … down to the seventh point in a third-set tiebreaker,” said MSC head coach Richard Lawrence. “No regrets. Cumberland was fabulous. Mount was fabulous. Would we have liked to have been on the other side of that tiebreaker? Yes, but other than that, good stuff.”
Things were looking promising for Mount with the No. 3 doubles team of Nick Dimino and Dustin Danneker scoring a 6-2, 6-1 win over Cumberland’s Nicholas Boisvert and Colin Railey. The Mounties also took No. 2 singles behind Ricky D’Agostino (6-4, 4-6, 6-3 over Cumberland’s Jack Proctor) and No. 3 singles courtesy of Matthew Zino (6-4, 6-1 over Cumberland’s Caden Eckman).
Momentum began to swing in Cumberland’s favor after No. 1 singles player Luke Cunningham took care of Mount’s Dan Corrao in straight sets (6-2, 6-2). The Clippers also received an impressive win from the No. 2 doubles team of Hunter Pinske and Ryan Caetano (6-1, 6-1).
“We came in as an underdog against North Kingstown [in the D-II semifinals] and were an underdog here. I told them that no one expected them to win except those who are here on this bus right now. Use that to your advance,” said Kuncz. “They never gave up even though there were so many chances where they could have.”
Even though they were focused on the task at hand, Goddard and Moran heard the support from their teammates.
“We wouldn’t have won without them,” said Goddard, who dyed his hair black and gold in tribute to former NBA rebounding king Dennis Rodman – also known for his fearless approach to his hair. “I thought they were the louder fan base and the louder fan base won.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03