COLCHESTER, Vt. - In a battle of regionally-ranked programs tied for second in the Northeast-10 Conference, the Saint Michael's College women's tennis team fell to Stonehill College, 6-3, on Thursday in the Tarrant Recreation Center. The Purple Knights dropped to 10-4 overall and 9-2 in the league and clinched the third position in next week's NE-10 Championship, while the Skyhawks are now 17-3 and 10-1, grabbing the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
With the loss, Saint Michael's, which is eighth in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Region poll, will host an NE-10 Championship first-round match on Tuesday against an undetermined opponent. As the No. 3 seed, the Purple and Gold claimed their highest seeding in the tournament since 2008. Stonehill, which stands sixth in the region, has advanced to the past four NE-10 Championship title matches and participated in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
Saint Michael's trailed 2-1 after doubles, as senior Alex Dalton (South Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) and sophomore Caroline Martin (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) combined for an 8-2 win at No. 2 to tie the match. Seniors Emily Magee (Queensbury, N.Y./Queensbury) and Jean-Marie McGrath (Niwot, Colo./Alexander Dawson) opened play with an 8-3 loss in the top spot to the ninth-ranked tandem in the region, senior Paige Frost (Brigantine, N.J./Holy Spirit) and first-year Kirsti Toegemann (Narragansett, R.I./The Lincoln School).
In the third position, sophomore Caroline Toutoungi (Weston, Conn./Weston) and first-year Erica Bundrick (Mattituck, N.Y./Mattituck) led first-years Analise Kump (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) and Bailey Paradiso (Birmingham, Mich./Marian), 6-5, before losing the following two games but winning the next to knot the match at seven. However, the Stonehill pair capped the comeback for a 9-7 victory by breaking the Purple Knights during the deciding game.
In a singles match-up between players with one loss in the conference, Bundrick grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second set against Toegemann at No. 2 while looking to knot her match before falling short, 6-0, 6-4, and the visitors pulled ahead by a 3-1 count. Dalton moved to 10-0 in the NE-10 with a 6-4, 6-2 win at three to bring her team within 3-2, but Frost downed sophomore Hannah Benoit (Mystic, Conn./Saint Bernard School) in the next completed match in a battle of conference unbeatens at No. 4. Frost needed a tie-breaker to win the opener, ultimately taking the match by a 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 decision.
Magee captured the first set against Paradiso, who is 19th in the region, before dropping a 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 decision at No. 1, and Toutoungi was knocked off by a 6-2, 6-2 count at No. 5 against junior Kaitlyn Martin (Medway, Mass./Medway), who has won 13 straight matches and is perfect in NE-10 play. The Purple Knights' Martin played in the final completed match, losing the first set before rallying for a 1-6, 6-2, 10-6 victory in the sixth position.
The Purple Knights conclude their 2012-13 regular season on Sunday when they host Franklin Pierce University for a Senior Day match at 11 a.m.