Emory into national title match
Eagles hold off Ephs with 5-4 win in semifinals
CARY, N.C. -- For the second consecutive day, No. 2-ranked Emory staved off a hard-charging opponent, coming away with a nerve-wracking win against No. 3-ranked Williams in the semifinal round of the NCAA DIII Championships. The Eagles raised their overall record to 24-0 following a 5-4 decision against the Ephs who closed out their season with a ledger of 18-3. With the victory, Emory advances to the title match on Wednesday where it will face No. 4 Kenyon.
Freshman Ian Wagner provided the heroics for Emory on Tuesday, claiming a three-set tug-of-war against Matt Micheli, 6-7, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 3 singles that closed out the match and stopped the furious comeback attempt by Williams. The win was Wagner's 10th in his last 11 matches and raised his overall record to 20-3 this spring (11-2 at No. 3). Wagner was also involved in another pivotal match when he and junior Elliott Kahler rallied from a 2-5 deficit to earn an 8-6 decision at No. 2 doubles that gave Emory a 2-1 edge in the contest. The Eagles captured their other doubles point at No. 3 with senior Dillon Pottish and freshman Brian Kowalski breezing to an 8-3 triumph, boosting their spring ledger to 14-0.
Emory bolted out to a 4-1 advantage in the match thanks to wins at Nos. 6 and 4 singles, respectively. Freshman Alex Ruderman came away with a 6-2, 6-0 verdict over Will Petrie at No. 6 while classmate Brian Kowalski notched a 6-2, 6-4 outcome over Zach Weiss at No. 4. However, Williams then began its rally, starting at second singles where Felix Sun battled to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over the Eagles' Chris Goodwin. The Ephs drew to within 4-3 after Pottish retired at the start of the third set at No. 1 singles. Williams then tied the match at No. 5 singles as a result of Bryan Chow's three-set decision over Eric Halpern, setting the stage for the result of No. 3 singles to conclude.
Emory will be aiming to bring home its third national title on Wednesday, having captured the championship in 2003 and 2006. The Eagles finished runner-up at the NCAAs last year, coming up short in the finals to Amherst. Kenyon advanced to Wednesday's action following a 5-2 win against Washington (Mo.) in the semis that improved its record to 24-4. The Lords have won their last 13 matches with their last setback coming against Emory on March 16.