Armstrong Atlantic beats West Florida, returns to national championship match
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- No. 2-ranked and defending NCAA Division II national champion Armstrong Atlantic State outlasted No. 3 West Florida 5-2 on Friday to advance to the NCAA Division II national championship match.
The Pirates (27-1) will face top-ranked and unbeaten Barry -- 5-0 winners against Concordia (N.Y.) in the other national semifinal match -- on Saturday for the championship. Armstrong makes its fourth appearance in the NCAA DII title match and has won the title in three previous seasons -- 2008, '09 and '12. The 2009 match featured both the Pirates and the Bucs in which Armstrong prevailed 5-4.
Armstrong took a 2-1 lead after doubles play against the Argos. Top-ranked Daniel Regan and Georgi Rumenov defeated fourth-ranked Kevin Ducros and Bruno Savi 8-5 at No. 1 doubles, while West Florida's Tony Rajobelina and Domenico Sano upset No. 5 Sven Lalic and Pedro Scocuglia 8-3 at No. 2 doubles. Jaan Kononov and Matus Mydla then claimed a close 8-6 win against Felipe Frattini and Elio Latella at No. 3 singles.
The singles play began with each team taking the first set in three matches. West Florida picked up the first singles win as Frattini downed No. 29-ranked Scocuglia 6-1, 7-6 (4) at No. 5 singles. Armstrong picked up a couple of straight-set wins to take a 4-2 lead as Pablo Gor downed Sano 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6 singles and top-ranked Rumenov bested No. 3-ranked Savi 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 singles.
With all three remaining matches in third sets, No. 11-ranked Regan brought home the clinching point to collect a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win against No. 49-ranked Rajobelina and send the Pirates into the championship match.
Armstrong faces Barry for the second time this season. Barry knocked off the Pirates 5-4 in March in Miami Shores, Fla.