No. 1 Seed Lady Flames Edged by No. 4 Seed Eagles 4-3 in ASUN Semis
The fourth-seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles stormed back to defeat the top-seeded Liberty Lady Flames 4-3, Friday in the ASUN Championship semifinals at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center.
The Lady Flames’ season ends with a 15-7 record. Liberty’s eight-match winning streak was also halted with the setback. The Lady Flames earned a share of the ASUN regular-season crown in their first year in the conference.
Florida Gulf Coast improves to 11-9 on the year and will advance to face No. 2 seed North Florida (16-7) in Saturday’s championship match at 10 a.m. The Ospreys topped No. 3 seed Lipscomb 4-0 in Friday’s other semifinal.
Florida Gulf Coast 4, Liberty 3
1. ORNBERG, Maja (FGCU) def. Ashley Bongart (LIBERTYW) 6-4, 1-6, 7-5
2. Kalani Soli (LIBERTYW) def. KELLY, Sara (FGCU) 6-0, 6-1
3. Lara Soares (LIBERTYW) def. ASCUA, Julia (FGCU) 7-6 (11-9), 6-4
4. PEREZ, Sofia (FGCU) def. Maria Medina (LIBERTYW) 5-7, 6-4, 7-5
5. VILLAR, Patricia (FGCU) def. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2)
6. FORSTER, Bridget (FGCU) def. Anna Dollar (LIBERTYW) 4-6, 7-6, 6-3
1. Lara Soares/Maria Medina (LIBERTYW) def. ORNBERG, Maja/ASCUA, Julia (FGCU) 6-2
2. Grace Hashiguchi/Kalani Soli (LIBERTYW) vs. VILLAR, Patricia/KELLY, Sara (FGCU) 4-1, unfinished
3. Anna Dollar/Ashley Bongart (LIBERTYW) def. FORSTER, Bridget/PEREZ, Sofia (FGCU) 6-0
Florida Gulf Coast 11-9
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,3,6,5,4,1)
How It Happened
- The Lady Flames dominated the doubles session to take a 1-0 lead. Liberty seniors Anna Dollar and Ashley Bongart rolled to a 6-0 victory over FGCU’s Bridget Forster and Sofia Perez on court three in a match which lasted just over 20 minutes. The Lady Flames senior duo closed out its spring with a 13-5 doubles mark (13-4 at No. 3).
- Seniors Lara Soares and Maria Medina followed suit with a 6-2 triumph of their own against Maja Ornberg and Julia Ascùa. Soares and Medina went 13-4 at No. 1 doubles, this spring.
- The Lady Flames also got off to a strong start in singles by winning four first sets on the six courts. Liberty Junior Kalani Soli once again turned in a dominant performance, defeating FGCU’s Sara Kelly 6-0, 6-1 on court two. Soli’s 14th straight win gave the top-seeded Lady Flames a 2-0 edge.
- Liberty’s lead grew to 3-0 when Soares, the team captain, prevailed 7-6 (9), 6-4 over Ascùa in the No. 3 singles match. The Lady Flames senior closed her career with six straight singles victories.
- The Lady Flames still appeared to be in good position, needing just one more point to advance to the final. Liberty also had several match points in some of the matches, but the Eagles continued to fight to stay alive in the match.
- Forster of FGCU earned the Eagles’ first point of the match with a comeback 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 decision over Dollar on court six.
- Trailing 5-2 in the third set to the Lady Flames’ Alexandra Almborg (No. 5 singles), Villar (FGCU) roared back to win a third-set tiebreaker (6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2)). Villar’s victory inched the Eagles closer (down 3-2).
- Liberty’s Medina led FGCU’s Perez 5-1 in the third set on court four. Perez claimed the next six games and the match (5-7, 6-4, 7-5). Her victory evened the match at 3-all.
- FGCU’s Ornberg led Bongart 5-3 in the third set, but Bongart took the next two games to keep the match alive. However, Ornberg won the next game on serve and then broke serve to prevail (6-4, 1-6, 7-5) and send the Eagles to the championship match with a 4-3 win.
- This was the Lady Flames’ first-ever ASUN Women’s Tennis Championship match.
- Liberty is now 0-2 against Florida Gulf Coast, with both decisions coming by a 4-3 count this season.
- The Lady Flames have earned a share of their conference’s regular-season crown in three of the past four seasons (two Big South, one ASUN).