STANFORD, Calif. — Senior Carolyn McVeigh outlasted Stacey Lee 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 6 singles, powering No. 1 Stanford past No. 16 Northwestern 4-2 in an NCAA Championships third round match that took almost five hours to complete.
Despite dropping the doubles point for the fourth time this year, Stanford (26-0) rebounded with superior singles play at the top of the lineup and a gutsy effort from McVeigh at the lower half.
The Cardinal advances to Sunday’s 7 p.m. (ET) quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 Georgia, which rallied to upend No. 9 California 4-3.
The only remaining unbeaten team in Division I, Stanford’s defense of its 2010 national championship nearly came to an abrupt halt in the most unlikely of settings. Having not lost a dual match on its home court in 12 years, Stanford fell behind early and was in serious danger of exiting the postseason earlier than anyone expected.
Instead, Stanford extended its NCAA-record home winning streak to 182 matches (147 regular season, 35 NCAA Tournament), with its last loss coming back on Feb. 27, 1999, in a 5-4 setback against California.
Meanwhile, Stanford has now won 45 consecutive matches dating back to its last loss, a 6-1 defeat at UCLA on Feb. 26, 2010.
This time around the difference was McVeigh, who shook off a second-set loss with a decisive 6-1 third-set victory, providing the clincher after fending off Lee in a match that lasted two hours and 49 minutes.
Approximately 250 dedicated fans braved the chilly late-night weather at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium as the contest was winding down, celebrating wildly when McVeigh finally secured the match at 1:34 a.m. PT. Originally scheduled to start at 6 p.m. PT on Friday, the contest was pushed back almost three hours due to an already backed-up tournament schedule from the afternoon.
Northwestern (22-8) kept things close early on and ended up stealing the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. After the Cardinal’s top team of Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette notched an 8-5 win on court one, the Wildcats posted 8-6 and 8-5 victories, respectively, at Nos. 3 and 2. Of the four instances Stanford has dropped the doubles point this year, three have occurred at home.
Nicole Gibbs booked a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 3 to even the match at 1-1 before Kate Turvy’s 6-3, 6-3 triumph against Stacey Tan put Northwestern back in front 2-1.
Stanford continued to roll at the top of the lineup, receiving wins from Mallory Burdette (6-1, 6-4 at No. 2) and Hilary Barte (6-4, 6-1 at No. 1) to move ahead 3-2 in the match.
At that point, McVeigh’s match was midway through the second set while Veronica Li had just split on court five. It appeared for a while that Li may actually secure the match before being edged in a tiebreaker.
As Li traded games in the third set with Linda Abu Mushrefova, McVeigh stormed ahead in her final set and eventually closed out the match 6-1.