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Liberty Drops Heartbreaker, 4-3, to Dartmouth in Season Opener

January 20, 2018  Hanover, N.H.  RSS
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Bongart won in both doubles and singles on Saturday at Dartmouth.

Bongart won in both doubles and singles on Saturday at Dartmouth.

Liberty women's tennis dropped a tightly-contested match, 4-3, to Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at the Boss Tennis Center in the Lady Flames' 2018 spring season opener.

The Lady Flames led, 3-2, but the Big Green won in the No. 4 and No. 5 singles matches to secure victory in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Liberty falls to 0-1 on the young season, while Dartmouth, who closed the 2017 spring campaign as the No. 45 team in the national rankings, improved to 2-0.

"This one hurts because we played with a lot of heart but came up just a little short against a very good team. We have to give credit to Dartmouth for stepping up at the crucial moments to produce the win," said Liberty Women's Tennis Head Coach Jeff Maren. "We will grow from this match and strive to take another step forward tomorrow."

The match got off to a promising start for the Lady Flames. Liberty took the doubles point from the Big Green in dramatic fashion with a tiebreaker triumph in the No. 2 doubles bout. The Lady Flames' pairing of juniors Maria Medina and Lara Soares saved several match points against Kristina Mathis and Racquel Lyn before ultimately winning in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5).

In the other doubles matches, Dartmouth's Julia Schroeder and Abigail Chiu knocked off Liberty's Polina Miroshnichenko and Rebekah Anderson, 6-3, in the No. 1 match. However, the Lady Flames' junior duo of Ashley Bongart and Aleksandra Panchenko bested Maddie Hwang and Allison McCann, 7-5, at No. 3.

The two Liberty juniors staved off a match point during the bout as well, setting the stage for Medina and Soares' doubles victory that provided Liberty a 1-0 advantage in the match.

The Big Green won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Schroeder earned a straight-sets victory over Miroshnichenko (6-2, 6-2) in the No. 2 slot, while No. 78 Mathis defeated Medina, 6-3, 6-2 on court one.

The Lady Flames' Bongart evened the score at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-3 win of her own over Chiu. The Bradenton, Fla., native's triumph was her team-leading 10th of the 2017-18 season.

Following her doubles victory, Liberty's Anderson won in two sets (6-4, 6-3) against her opponent, McCann. The Lady Flames junior put Liberty in front, 3-2, with the triumph in the No. 6 singles match.

Liberty senior Evangeline Crist fell, 6-3, 7-6 (2), to Hwang in the No. 5 singles bout, which allowed Dartmouth to tie the match, 3-3. Crist led, 5-3, in the second set before Hwang stormed back to win in a tiebreaker.

The match came down to the No. 4 dual between Soares (Liberty) and Lyn (Dartmouth). Soares claimed the first set, 6-4, and led 5-4 in the second set. Lyn mounted a comeback and won in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), and carried the momentum into a 6-2 third-set win. Lyn's 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 triumph lifted the Big Green to victory.  

Liberty will be back in action tomorrow at Boston University (0-1). First serve between the Lady Flames and the Terriers is pegged for 10 a.m. at the Track & Tennis Center in Boston, Mass.